Cathedral Endtyme

The coolest thing about the UK's Cathedral is that even though they've never duplicated the slow, agonising doom of their 1991 groundbreaking debut, Forest Of Equilibrium, they've always exercised the option of going back to that prehistoric sound. Endtyme does just that, while also staying true to their neo-stoner stance by updating and tightening the grooves. "After being together so long, we felt that we had nothing to prove anymore," explains main throat Lee Dorrian. "We tried a few new things here and there, but we realised that what we do best is what we've done on this album: strip it all down, make it more straightforward and direct and have more of a focal point to achieve." Vocally, Dorrian is at the top of his game, mixing generous death growls with minimal amounts of the pro-wrestler intonations he has utilised lately. "At the time, nobody else was doing all that 'oh yeah,' 'come on' stuff, but it got a bit exaggerated and carried on for too long. I'm not ashamed of anything we've done at all, I just feel that we had to put out an album that comes from the gut." And how! "Melancholy Emperor" and "Alchemist Of Sorrows" sling primordial sludge and "Requiem For The Sun" opens up halfway through for a ’70s psychedelic jam. "Ultra Earth" resembles the knockdown, drag-out grooves of Goatsnake (with whom Cathedral hopes to tour North America this summer), while the resonating "Astral Queen" recalls the nimble spaciness of Pantera's take of Sabbath's "Planet Caravan." The album is book-ended by Forest-era dirge, with the closing cut, the 13-minute "Templar's Arise! (The Return)," boasting acoustic guitar work before the epic collapses in on itself in a colossal, annihilating finale. "We wanted to prove to ourselves that we're still a heavy band and that we still mean business," asserts Dorrian. Indeed, Endtyme delivers in a monstrous way. (Earache)