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Album Reviews : Cathedral – The Guessing Game

By on March 24, 2010

In 1989, vocalist Lee Dorrian left the legendary grindcore act Napalm Death to form Cathedral. While Napalm Death’s music was blindingly fast and insanely aggressive, Cathedral focused on slowing the tempo right down to create a sound that hadn’t been heard since Black Sabbath’s Masters of Reality album.

Twenty years since the release of their debut demo In Memoriam, Cathedral have slowly but surely moved away from the Doom Metal genre that they once called home, with elements of folk, drone and psychedelica heavily apparent on their ninth full-length; The Guessing Game.

After the album opening, sax and organ heavy instrumental “Immaculate Misconception”, the epic “Funeral of Dreams” kicks things off with a cracking riff, before moving into a strange, ‘Beatles on Acid’-style section. The wah-infused intro of “Painting in the Dark” turns into a great driving riff and is coupled with a huge guitar solo and a cowbell-lead middle section.

While there are plenty of tasty guitar riffs on the record, there are many trippy, psychedelic moments through-out. While it certainly does create a unique sound, you can’t help but think that the band is sometimes being weird just for the sake of being weird. The album also delves into many acoustic interludes, such as the folk-inspired intro to “Death of an Anarchist”. The lush “Cats, Incense, Candles and Wine” adds chorused vocal effects with an Opeth style mellotron backing and experimental percussion work.

The main criticism for The Guessing Game would be, like the countless double albums before it, it could have been a stronger effort if it was a single disc affair, with the more average and extended numbers trimmed down.

While the more bizarre sections on The Guessing Game undeniably keeps the listener guessing through-out, it might be a bit too much for the casual fan who just wants to bang their heads to the massive riffs on offer. 7/10

Band: Cathedral
Album: The Guessing Game
Year: 2010
Genre: Doom Metal/Stoner Rock
Origin: Coventry, England
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Track Listing
1. Immaculate Misconception
2. Funeral of Dreams <-Reviewers Choice
3. Painting in the Dark
4. Death of an Anarchist
5. The Guessing Game
6. Edwige’s Eyes <-Reviewers Choice
7. Cats, Incense, Candles and Wine
8. One Dimensional People
9. Casket Chasers <-Reviewers Choice
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


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.