Cathedral - In Memoriam - (8/10)
Published on June 25, 2015
Apparitions of the past.
When doom stalwarts Cathedral threw in the towel back in 2013, they left behind a legacy of crunching tunes and hard rocking grooves. It had been 24 years since their formation, and their morbid tales originated with a self-published tape bearing the title In Memorium. This four-track demo featured the vocal talents of ex-Napalm Death frontman Lee Dorrian, as well as Acid Reign’s Gaz Jennings on guitars, both of whom would helm Cathedral until its final breath. In 1999 the debut was repackaged as In Memoriam, on Dorrian’s own Rise Above Records, adding five live cuts from the band’s early days. With Cathedral now a thing of the past, this 25th-anniversary reissue is fitting both in name and content, providing another gaze towards where it all began.
Cathedral anno 1990
During the course of their career, Cathedral branched out from the doom metal label, into more stoner, progressive and gothic stylings. Fresh out of Napalm Death, however, Dorrian and the lads carried a more traditional death metal touch to their debut. With a crunching and rough sound comparable to US contemporaries Winter, In Memoriam laid the foundation for a band that were actively trying to break away from the death metal and crust scenes from which they had emerged. With the sub-genre of death-doom still in its infancy, Cathedral burst out from the vault with a handful of intense hymns of death and sorrow. Tracks such as “Mourning Of A New Day” and “Ebony Tears” chug steadily along, with Jennings’ guitars only occasionally rearing his now legendary leads, and Dorrian’s vocal performance mainly consists of tormented death growls. As a sign of things to come, the Pentagram’s classic “All Your Sins” receives the cover-treatment, slowing it down to a gloomy trudge. A far cry from what Cathedral would eventually become, In Memoriam remains a beast of old school doomy death metal, a sound that would endure into the classic Forest Of Equilibrium.
Cathedral anno 1991
The added collection of live tracks constitute the bulk of In Memoriam, and features versions of the first three songs as well as a couple of cuts from the band’s second demo. Recorded at three shows in Holland and Belgium early in 1991, these songs exhibit the live prowess of Cathedral mrk. 1. The sound quality is more than adequate for almost 25 year old bootlegs, giving a glimpse of the good old days. In addition to these tracks, the retail version of In Memoriam includes a DVD featuring some early live material, but this was not included in the distributed promo. Needless to say, whatever the quality of the video material, this compilation stands perfectly fine on its own.
With a hefty running time of 72 minutes, In Memoriam gives hardcore fans significant bang for your bucks. More than a time-capsule or mere curiosity, these early demos are remarkably solid in their own right. A sometimes overlooked doom metal landmark, it’s a substantial testament to how Cathedral emerged from the womb clawing and screaming.