Cathedral The Serpent's Gold

With such a surplus of quality material, making a single-disc best-of for UK’s doom pioneers Cathedral is a daunting task at best, but Earache has managed to do so while including a second disc of rarities that alone is a must-own for all fans. Excepting their most recent album, 2002’s The VIIth Coming on Spitfire, all full-lengths and most of their sporadic EPs are represented here, giving the listener a true sense of Cathedral’s progression from death-doom to disco-metal and back again. That the tracks are not in chronological order, however, allows for refreshing comparisons between band eras. Starting smartly with the stomping "Ride” and "Hopkins (Witchfinder General),” the first disc, titled The Serpent’s Treasure, drops the growlers "Autumn Twilight” and the re-recorded "Soul Sacrifice” from the group’s second EP (which got them signed, albeit briefly, to Columbia Records). The mid-’90s trio of "Stained Glass Horizon,” "Vampire Sun” and "Cosmic Funeral” preface 1991’s plodding and deliberate "Ebony Tears” and "Equilibrium,” and 2001 scorcher "Melancholy Emperor” is sandwiched between them. Except for "Schizoid Puppeteer” from the Dark Passages Vol. II comp, The Serpent’s Chest disc sports completely unreleased cuts. "Hide And Seek” is a trippy instrumental version on "Imprisoned In Flesh,” and acid-rockers "Violet Breath” and "Magic Mountain” lighten the mood of the ultra-heavy demos "Neophytes For Serpent Eve” and "Commiserating The Celebration Of Life.” Two live songs are included: 1994’s "A Funeral Request” features Pentagram’s Victor Griffin and Joe Hasselvander and Repulsion’s Scott Carlson, and the one-time-only live "Blue Light” (from 1995’s The Carnival Bizarre) is culled from the band’s Japan tour for 2001’s Endtyme. They even pay homage to cult doomsters Witchfinder General with a cover of 1982’s "Rabies.” Together with comprehensive interviews with founding members Lee Dorrian and Gaz Jennings, The Serpent’s Gold truly sets the standard for retrospective packages. (Earache)