When one thinks of doom metal, they think of pioneers like Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Cathedral. I wasn’t familiar with the latter for a while, and I’m kicking myself now because what Cathedral lacks in name recognition, they make up for with sinister riffage that matches (or even exceeds) that of their forebears.
Several of the tracks come from my favorite Cathedral album Carnival Bizarre, like its title track, “Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)”, “Vampire Sun” and “Night of the Seagulls”. Moreover, the double-live album begins with their 1991 classic Forest of Equilibrium in its entirety.
Thus, “Picture of Beauty and Innocence” plays the harbinger role here, leading into the 11-minute masterpiece “Comiserating the Celebration (of Life)”, which bombarded my pitiful ears with otherworldly riffs that shook me to my core. I was lucky to escape without a raging case of tinnitus. I feel that “A Funeral Request” sounds a lot better than the version originally from Forest of Equilibrium, while the live version of “Soul Sacrifice” leaves something to be desired.
If “Comiserating the Celebration (of Life)” destroyed my eardrums, “Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain” laid waste to the rest of my mind—Lee Dorrian’s voice has never been louder nor clearer to my ears. “Funeral of Dreams” delights with catchy quasi-psychedelic hooks; “Cosmic Funeral” reminded of “Electric Funeral” with Dio singing; there’s a nice creeping effect on “Night of the Seagulls”; and unless you wish to play a deadly game of hangman, you’d better fucking run once “Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)” rears his ugly head! “Carnival Bizarre” closes Anniversary with plenty of stamina and renewed vigor, even after this already-astounding display.
This is easily one of my top picks for 2011. I’ve been waiting for a great live album all year and this fucking delivers! The curtain may be coming to a close for Cathedral in 2012, but this is a fitting eulogy.
FCC: 9,15,13 (“a” not “er” though)
01. Picture of Beauty and Innocence
02. Comiserating the Celebration (Of Life)
03. Ebony Tears
04. Serpent Eve
05. Soul Sacrifice
06. A Funeral Request
08. Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain
09. Funeral of Dreams
10. Enter The Worms
11. Upon Azrael’s Wings
12. Midnight Mountain
13. Cosmic Funeral
14. Night of the Seagulls
17. The Last Spire Pt.1 (Entrance)
18. Vampire Sun
19. Hopkins(The Witchfinder General)
20. Carnival Bizarre