CATHEDRAL - The Guessing Game
April 18, 2010, 9 years ago
It's often said that creativity thrives under the most severe of limitations, where less is more. Never was this ethic more established than within the songs of the purveyors of perfectly crafted doom - Black Sabbath, St. Vitus, Candlemass, and Trouble. Maybe it's just me, but simplicity seems part and parcel to a good ol' down-tuned, ditty. Now, if somebody could please explain this process to UK doomsters Cathedral, we'd have the ultimate quintuplet of doom gods! I'm all for experimentation, when it happens to make sense, but Cathedral's ninth studio album, The Guessing Game, tries to balance too many elements within the (seemingly ample) ninety minutes, becoming a maddeningly convoluted, and, ultimately, counterintuitive process. A perfect example of this de trop approach to songwriting comes in the form of 'Cat's, Incense, Candles & Wine', a song that contains a riff to rival the best, yet is ultimately hampered by an over-abundance of ridiculous hallucinatory, drug-adled filler. That said, the album presents a most unexpected twist, transitioning into modern, radio-friendly territory with the U2 inspired 'La Noche Del Buque Maldito (Aka Ghost Ship Of The Blind Dead)'. A welcome reprieve of compositional simplicity is introduced with the linear, funky, doom-laden vibe of 'Edwige's Eyes', 'Casket Chasers', and 'Journey Into Jade', which highlight Cathedral at their best, reliving the genius moments of 93's stellar The Ethereal Mirror. It is immediately telling that The Guessing Game was crafted as a labor of love, a sentimental romp through an antiquated era of psychedelia, progressive rock, stoner, doom, and jazz. It's also not surprising that the band spent the better part of five years in the creation of The Guessing Game, yet it's truly unfortunate that what I took away from the listening experience is completely disproportionate to what the band invested in the lengthy creative process.