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Cathedral - "In Memoriam (reissue)" (CD)

Cathedral - "In Memoriam (reissue)" CD cover image

"In Memoriam (reissue)" track listing:

1. Mourning of a New Day
2. All Your Sins
3. Ebony Tears
4. March
5. Intro/Comiserating the Celebration
6. Ebony Tears
7. Neophytes For Serpent Eve
8. All Your Sins
9. Mourning of a New Day

Reviewed by on June 23, 2015

"This demo appears quite grim when compared to later albums like the psychedelic laced 'Supernatural Birth Machine.'"

Lee Dorian fronted the first Napalm Death record “Scum,” but did not return for the sophomore effort. He was getting sick of the punk scene and did not like the death metal direction Napalm Death headed towards, so he formed Cathedral. Where Napalm Death fed itself on speed, the first Cathedral recording “In Memoriam” consisted of crawling, downward tempos. This demo appears quite grim when compared to later albums like the psychedelic laced “Supernatural Birth Machine.”

Demos often contain poorly recorded versions of songs that appear on bands’ first proper recordings. That is not the case here. Other than “Ebony Tears,” which appears on the “Forest of Equilibrium” full length, the three other songs only appear on this demo. However, when considering the short track listing of only four songs, one of which is a cover (“All Your Sins” by Pentagram) while “March” is an instrumental, the album certainly comes off as a demo.

Originally released as a cassette, this CD version contains five live tracks. Recorded in Holland and Belgium in 1991, two of those live tracks do not appear on the original demo, those being “Commiserating the Celebration” and “Neophytes For The Serpent Eve.” Also, the live tracks are longer than the studio songs. As hinted at above, though, the sound quality is quite good and all the instruments ring crisp and clear. The guitars are overly heavy without sounding murky and the volume is loud.

“Mourning of a New Day” was the start of a long career, which is unfortunately over now. However, twenty-five years later this eight-minute number still rings with power and conviction. Short drum beats beckon the way for Gaz Jenning’s drawn out guitar notes. Dorian doesn’t always receive credit as a great vocalist, but the layered growls he opens with show him as a diabolical voice to be reckoned with.

As stated above, the psychedelic, even goofy aspects of later albums are not here. This recording contains some of their slowest and grimmest material. They don’t settle into one chord, though, and “Mourning of a New Day” does pick up the pace into a mid-tempo tromp. Of course the Pentagram cover “All Your Sins” also moves at a mid-paced groove. There is a psychosis in Dorian’s voice not found in Griffin’s and the volume and tuning seems much heavier than the original.

“March” bears the distinction of being the heaviest track on the album. The bass provides the trudging march. The live tracks sound excellent. The volume is loud—the guitars and drums boom. On “Commiserating the Celebration” Gaz Jennings produces chugging and ringing chords that rumble the floor. “Neophytes For the Serpent of Eve” moves at a much slower, nefarious pace. Songs like this exemplify the idea of doom’s slow movements.

The cassette version of “In Memoriam” is not an easy thing to find. I’m not even sure if it’s still available, so it is a big deal for Dorian to reissue this recording via his Rise Above Records label. There are some tracks I don’t see on other albums and the material is quite good. “In Memoriam” is certainly a must have record for any fan of doom or Cathedral.

Highs: The album has exceptional sound quality, especially for demo and live tracks.

Lows: The length of the songs can prove hard to listen to in their entirety.

Bottom line: Fans of doom and Cathedral should pick this one up.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)