Release Date: Apr 30, 2013
Record label: Metal Blade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
It was a sad day in the already very dour doomsville when long-running UK legends Cathedral announced they'd be calling it quits. Not if you ask me, though: I like it when a band quit when they're ahead, and these guys are just consistently ahead. The Last Spire, their tenth and last release, combines all that the legends do well: snail-paced doom, upbeat Sabbath stoner rock and craggly sludge.
Doom metal is a particularly British phenomenon – probably due to the muscular presence of its pioneers Black Sabbath – and Cathedral have been at the forefront of this gloriously miserable subgenre of metal since 1989. The Last Spire, their 10th album, is also their last, signalling songwriter Lee Dorrian’s farewell to the music business and its death throes. Crushing to the last, Dorrian’s final work under the Cathedral name is pessimistic, thoughtful and sonically leaden, reeking of lichen on tombstones and accompanied by the croaking of evil ravens.
After nearly a quarter century, 10 albums, a major-label stint, and a deserved reputation as an act that helped pull doom metal from its stylistic exile, exactly how will Cathedral end its final album? That’s the question that hovers above The Last Spire, the excellent eight-track LP that will mark the end of the long-running, ever-restless English quartet. Early last year, Cathedral played their final show in Australia before returning to England to chart their own demise. For the last two decades, the band has pushed far beyond the slow-growing and wide-set roots of its foundational debut, 1991’s Forest of Equilibrium, to incorporate thrash blitzes, psychedelic tangents and 70s rock bombast.
Lee Dorrian has had a charmed musical career! As a young lad, he first cut his punk teeth editing a fanzine called Committed Suicide. Covering mostly anarchist (crust) punk bands at the time, the horizons of the fanzine’s field of coverage would later expand to include metal bands. This genre convergence would later prove to be prophetically allegorical of Lee joining the legendary Napalm Death, one out of a handful of bands that pioneered the grindcore genre by blending metal’s brutal power with punk’s speed and political ethos.