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Cathedral - "The Guessing Game" (CD)

Cathedral - "The Guessing Game" CD cover image

"The Guessing Game" track listing:

1. Immaculate Misconception
2. Funeral Of Dreams
3. Painting In The Dark
4. Death Of An Anarchist
5. The Guessing Game
6. Edwige's Eyes
7. Cats, Incense, Candles and Wine
8. One Dimensional People
9. The Casket Chasers
10. La Noche del Buque Maldito (aka Ghost Ship of the Blind Dead)
11. The Running Man
12. Requiem For The Voiceless
13. Journeys Into Jade

Reviewed by on October 1, 2010

"Flawless in some of its moments, the rest of the material was not fleshed out enough to be as heavy and listenable as Cathedral has always delivered in the past. "

"The Guessing Game" concludes the five year hiatus from British doom metallers Cathedral. This highly anticipated new CD would answer a lot of the questions about whether they would morph stylistically into other genres of rock. Inclinations of this were heard on their last release, "The Garden of Unearthly Delights," an opus of solid sludge metal with moments where it branched out into other influences.

"The Guessing Game" strikes me as a spotty endeavor of hit and miss. On a very positive note, "Painting in the Dark" is an exceptional track that rides a musical landscape of fluid time changes by the truckload. It is both addictive and catchy, incorporating Cathedral's seamless heavy riffs into an uptempo beat. Also worthy is the victim paean "Requiem for the Voiceless," which is so slow, sludgy and heavy that it makes St. Vitus seem pale by comparison. "Edwige's Eyes" is the track that beckons to their very best groove rock style, while "One Dimensional People" shows promise as a good instrumental rocker. Lee Dorrian and the other band members can certainly write some killer songs.

The quandary is, this release has moments where it seems to hit the wall creatively. There are several instrumentals like "La Noche del Buque Maldito" that are decent forays into that progressive rock territory they have touched upon before, while there are plenty of others that are completely unrequited. I am left wondering this as I listen to "Immaculate Misconception," one such track that doesn't really flow and falls short of being good song material. "Cats, Incense, Candles and Wine" is another example of a track that never seems to go anywhere with its delivery in mock-poetry fashion.

I expected "The Guessing Game" to be a change from previous Cathedral material, as all bands evolve. But somehow, I thought it would be more fluid than this. Flawless in some of its moments, the rest of the material was not fleshed out enough to be as heavy and listenable as Cathedral has always delivered in the past.

Highs: Some good doom metal tracks and uptempo ones.

Lows: Instrumentals that get lost in their own weight.

Bottom line: Average at best, it needed more of a unifying theme to be good.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)