This live double CD set from Cathedral is at once a glorious celebration of a band who were not only inspirational, but who also virtually came to define what “doom” metal could and would be. Recorded at one of their final ever UK shows in December 2010 at the Islington Academy in London, this document acts as a poignant full stop to a career spanning 21 years.
The double CD package covers the two distinct sets that were performed on the night. The first set featured, in its entirety, the 1991 album “Forest of Equilibrium” with the original Cathedral line up which included Mark Griffiths, Adam Lehan and Mark Smail, whilst the second set comprised a retrospective of their career in general, and featured the long standing line up of Lee Dorian, Brian Dixon, Leo Smee and Garry Jennings. One could argue that the first set lacks the intensity of vocal delivery that helped characterize “Forest of Equilibrium”, but this appears insignificant when considering the time that has lapsed since that recording, and the changes in technique over the years that Cathedral have embraced.
The second set, which controversially for some maybe, begins with the more multifaceted ‘Funeral of Dreams’ from the last Cathedral album “The Guessing Game”, finds this incarnation of the band at the top of their game in terms of comfort and attitude. Lee Dorian is obviously more at ease with the vocal style required of the material from this era of the band. On tracks such as ‘Midnight Mountain’ the drums bounce along behind to lift the material to another level of joyous celebration. The only way to end a celebration of the life and times of Cathedral would be to perform an energetic and destructive version of the classic ‘Hopkins (Witchfinder General)’ and this is just what happened on the night to the obvious delight to those present.
The production throughout the two sets is crisp and clean and gives one the sense that the sound engineering that night was of an exceedingly high calibre. The general consequence is of a sound so vast and hollow, which combines with the solid bass sound, to create a cavernous ambience that is the perfect environment for the essence of what this music is about. As an introduction to the music of Cathedral this recording may not be the most appropriate and representative, and it could be argued that previous knowledge of the band’s material is a requisite to fully appreciating this set, but as an archive to help capture the specific event, and the essence of what Cathedral were capable of at the time, this is an absolutely essential historical document.