CATHEDRAL - "ENDTYME" (EARACHE)
When I read somewhere that Cathedral had supposedly gone more back to their roots, my interest was fired. So far, Cathedral (arisen from the ashes of Acid Reign, rekindled by a former Napalm Death singer) had started off with the phenomenally slow and wonderfully doomy "Forest of Equilibrium" (1991). Other bands could write full-fledged songs between two of Cathedral's drum beats, that's how slow, how doomy, how intensely despondent they sounded. And it was brilliant! That style had, by the time they released the follow-up ("The Ethereal Mirror", 1993), already become faster and happier (or at least a lot less miserable). On subsequent albums, Cathedral further embraced the genre that became known (or was probably already known) as stoner rock, and with that the music became less interesting, less unique, less Cathedral.
With "Cathedral Flames", the album's first track, it certainly seems as if the gear lever has comfortably got stuck in first. Very slow, very doomy, just like old Cathedral fans are wont (and desirous) to hear. "Melancholy Emperor" is already a bit faster again, though is does have some slower and magnificently heavy sections. The third track, "Requiem for the Sun", is a bit more of a stoner rock affair, but it is amply redeemed by a wickedly slow and heavy middle section. "Whores to Oblivion" is an OK track which is spoiled by the simply stupid noise at the end. I can't possibly see the merit of that. Then follow two very heavy tracks - the superb "Alchemist of Sorrows" and the more diverse "Ultra Earth". The latter track boasts a bit of a 60's-sounding section near the end. Another track, this time a bit faster but still sounding very menacing (reminiscent of the stuff on "The Ethereal Mirror"), is "Sea Serpent". "Endtyme" also has its share of weirdness, though. There's the rather dreamy, effects-driven "Astral Queen", quite the odd one out, which has quite a 60's kind of atmosphere. Weirdest, however, is the final track, entitled "Templars Arise! (The Return)", clocking at well over 13 minutes. It has longer softer sections and heavy slow bits, too, lots of general strange things going on. Not as fun as "The Voyage of the Homeless Sapien" from the "Statik Majik" EP, it manages to actually leave you with less of an overall good impression of "Endtyme".
If you ask me the band has certainly made a step back towards their roots. The album is very heavy, not happy like their most recent offerings, and has moments of doom to shudder the earth. I am personally not too taken away with the final track, so I think I'll skip that in the future. Without that, it's one hell of a fine album with various alien influences carefully woven into the cloak of doom.
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Written March 2001
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