Review : CATHEDRAL – "The Guessing Game"

CathedralThe Guessing Game
Release Date: 2010Mar26 (US)
Label: Nuclear Blast
Rating: 2.5/5

It has been about 20 years now since Lee Dorrian last grunted at the helm of Napalm Death. In those 20 years, the man’s career has changed almost as drastically as possible. Once he departed the grindcore legends, he decided to stop making one-minute blasts of power and move into the slow-moving doom business by releasing Cathedral‘s debut album, Forest of Equilibrium. The downtuned, crushing riffs on that record will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s truly a wonderful album. My big question, however, is: “what the hell happened?”

Despite Dorrian doing an occasional awesome project (“Ice Cold Man” for the Probot album and Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine come to mind), what he has done with Cathedral has not impressed me one bit. He does not have the touch he used to. In those early days with the band, his vocals consisted mainly of deep, grunty croons. Nowadays, it sounds like he is trying to be a heavier Bob Dylan with the way he emphasizes words. The issue is that Dylan is the only person who can make his voice work. This style is still prominent on The Guessing Game, and it seriously detracts from the album.

The band has some moments, like the miniature, Sabbath-y jam on “Edwige’s Eyes” or the short, uneventful but exciting intro that is “Immaculate Misconception”. However, these are few and far between. I don’t know who’s doing most of the writing in these songs, but they’re full of the kind of riffs that people write when they’ve been playing an instrument for about a year and only know basic scales and chord progressions. I don’t get the sense that any real thought went into writing these songs––they just come off as sloppy and thrown together. The clearest example is “Death of an Anarchist”, which features one of the least creative, most unoriginal minor key riffs I’ve ever heard. In stark contrast, the first half of “Requiem for the Voiceless” returns to the classic Cathedral style with slow-churning, deep doom. It is the one song on the whole album that works tremendously well.

I give this album a 2.5 because it can at least be entertaining. It is not complete crap and can work if you accept Dorrian’s voice and don’t take it from any analytical point of view. Just do not expect anything remotely revolutionary and enjoy it for what it is:  Cathedral, no more, no less.

FCC: 2
Try: 2, 6, 9, 12

01. Immaculate Misconception
02. Funeral of Dreams
03. Painting in the Dark
04. Death of an Anarachist
05. The Guessing Game
06. Edwige’s Eyes
07. Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine
08. One Dimensional People
09. 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. Journey into Jade

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