Guv | UK | 03/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cathedral were sadly overlooked in the 1990s while lumpen dirge like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park soared to popularity. This album demonstrates why Cathedral are better than any of them. There's no brattish whining or juvenile ranting, instead you get powerful rock played by a band for whom inane posturing isn't even a consideration. This is great heavy metal of the highest order and comes highly recommended. Vampire Sun and Hopkins (Witchfinder General) are a great starting point for anyone new to the band.
Cathedral may not be a household name, but they are a fantastic "secret" for those of us lucky enough to have discovered them. Great album!"
Zachary A. Hanson | Tallahassee, FL United States | 06/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This album takes the Sabbath template and makes it about as evil as it can get almost from beginning to end, making it a quintessential classic of doom metal, right up there with Cathedral's best albums, _The Ethereal Mirror_ and _Forest of Equilibrium_, and other giants of the genre like Venom et al. Cathedral do this through processing sludge and low-end in as many ways possible along with some excellent lead playing from Gaz Jennings, thrilling and pounding drumming from Brian Dixon, and, of course, shrill and evil grunting/screaming courtesy of Lee Dorrian, one of metal's poet laureates. The whole affair winds down near the end; if they had left the last three songs off of this CD, it would have been the perfect metal CD and would be worthy of five stars.
That aside, we have seven songs and almost fifty minutes of unalloyed scintillatronic metal! Let's dig deep into this slab of evil to see how they do it: "Vampire Sun," Sabbath sludge pure and simple with such improbable lyrics as "Monolithic angel/ unveil your king this planet disabled/ mummify the cosmos/ with the vision of divinity yeah!" "Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)" is one of the best Cathedral has ever done, a song about witches getting it on with the Father of Lies, replete with demonic pentatonic shredding from Jennings. Any self-respecting metalhead should interiorize this song: 'Nuf said.
"Utopian Blaster" features a guest appearance by the Father of it all: I mean besides Old Nick, it's none other than Tony Iommi (who really may be the Antichrist after all--the jury's still in). With the Sabbath guru at the helm here, you'll never hear a better grind. This song is a perfect example of the crossroads they were at with this CD. They still had some of the sludgy elements that they mined extensively on _Forest of Equilibrium_, but there is also an attitude that makes it verge on hair metal, albeit of an evil sort. This is their last great record before they delved even deeper into hairdom with the disappointing _Supernatural Birth Machine_. This song represents them at the top of their game.
And they stay at the top heading into the creepy "Night of the Seagulls." This song about history gone horrific is about the fabled Knights Templar (yeah, the ones in _DaVinci Code_) wandering through eternity thirsty for blood. This is Cathedral at their slow best and Lee Dorrian has never sounded more possessed than on this one.
The title track is one of the more histrionic pieces Cathedral ever composed and also features one of their catchiest choruses, tho' of the kind that could never make any pop chart: "Carnival bizarre/ freaks and lepers step right up/ circus of macabre/ all the devils are rockin hard." Stupid? F**k yeah! But that perfect metal stupidity that makes you want to do headbanging against an iron door and explode all your neurons. Any seasoned doom lover knows precisely what I mean.
"Inertia's Cave" has one of the most punishing and twisting riffs ever concocted in metal and a bunch more nonsense from Dorrian's mouth. We head into "Fangalactic Supergoria," where the album crests and then falls off a cliff. "Blue Light" and "Palace of Fallen Majesty" try unsuccesfully to be atmospheric while "Electric Grave" is more or less an interminable and largely boring solo from Jennings, a little bit too faithful an homage to Sabbath.
If you stop it after the seventh song, you've got yourself one of the sexiest slabs of satan ever served up to the masses and that's no small shakes. Get your hand on a used copy of this one and hope that Earache re-releases this one soon, hopefully with some bonuses."