Cathedral The Last Spire

CathedralThe Last Spire
It was a sad day in the already very dour doomsville when long-running UK legends Cathedral announced they'd be calling it quits. Not if you ask me, though: I like it when a band quit when they're ahead, and these guys are just consistently ahead. The Last Spire, their tenth and last release, combines all that the legends do well: snail-paced doom, upbeat Sabbath stoner rock and craggly sludge. Here, the production quality is cleaner than Cathedral sometime flirt with, while the song lengths are as long as always. Put it together and you've got a fitting finale, with opening intro "Entrance to Hell" being a great, fun, suitable way to begin the proceedings. From there, the group bust into the almost 12-minute "Pallbearer," a track that sums up the Cathedral experience nicely: mainly plodding doom, with a quick acoustic break, then an upbeat, rockin' Sabbath part. "Cathedral of the Damned" is a shorter, ultra-catchy mid-tempo doom rocker, as is "Tower of Silence." "Infestation of Grey Death" gets long and slow again, with more keyboards and acoustics, the group definitely giving a nod to their first album roots. "An Observation" is slower and longer, The Last Spire threatening to stop hearts all together as it goes on, as it should be (it also adds in some tripped-out '70s prog-psych for good measure). "The Last Laugh" is a fun 30-second goof-off, then the closer, the nine-minute "This Body, Thy Tomb," is a slug-fest that ends off with little fanfare or look-at-me pomposity, rather it just goes loudly into the dark night. Lyrically, Cathedral are obsessed with death and the end-time more than ever, totally appropriate. We're lucky to have been alive during the era that Cathedral made music; future generations will look back on us with envy. R.I.P., Cathedral. (Metal Blade)