CATHEDRAL – The Garden Of Unearthly Delights

CATHEDRAL - The Garden Of Unearthly Delights


Nuclear Blast
Release date: January 26, 2006

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16 years back, Cathedral was nothing but an idea in the hungover heads of Lee Dorrian (vocals) and Mark “Griff” Griffiths (mostly bass until 1992). The following year In Memorium was released, and the Cathedral wheel of Doom started turning … slowly. Now, three years have passed since The VII Coming, and they are back with their 8th studio full-length CD, The Garden Of Unearthly Delights: and this time they have signed on with Nuclear Blast.

The Music

Although inspired by many, Cathedral has been known to navigate their own way through the shady waters of Doom. The Garden Of Unearthly Delights is no exception, and draws up a route where Doom meets Stoner in a sort of Progressive manner, and where the spirit of Black Sabbath perhaps is more pronounced than ever.

Except for the almost catchy “Corpsecycle,” which has the most melodic chorus (and even in a major key!), The Garden Of Unearthly Delights offers a challenge to the listener. The diversity or range of dark moods and cascades of distorted guitar, bass, and vocals may not reveal themselves right from the start, as the album is a bit overwhelming, but as the shades of grey and black unfold, you will experience a transformation in state of mind.

The acoustic guitar piece, “Fields Of Zagara,” sort of splits this album in half with its intermezzo character. Served prior to this track are 5 quite different songs. “Dearth AD 2005” opens the show in a nearly occult manner, with its ambient noises and less recognizable spoken words. The following three songs offer three different moods, but all are spun around less melodic verses and a grinding, bottom-end groove. Last one out before the intermezzo is the aforementioned uplifting “Corpsecycle.”

The second half of this album starts with a Motörhead kind of feeling in “Oro The Manslayer,” and a brilliant experimental piece, “Beneath A Funeral Sun” — with its slightly Musical character, the song prepares you for the album’s definite highlight: the near 27-minute epic “The Garden.” Cathedral breaks every convention and rule with this composition, and the outcome is simply stunning: loaded with so much contrast and so many paths, you might get lost in their labyrinth, but somehow they manage to pull it off and guide you through! Oh, beware of the stray demons, by the way …

Concluding, “Proga-Europa” could easily have spoiled the immense feeling accumulated throughout “The Garden,” but it works thanks to the introduction: five minutes of utter silence. When the shit finally hits the fan, Cathedral bursts into possibly their shortest song ever. It’s rough, it’s groovy, it’s melodic, and it’s over in a minute.

The Band

The Cathedral line up has been subject to many changes, and for a while they were just two: Lee Dorrian and Gerry “Gaz” Jennings (guitar). Since 1993, they’ve been a quartet, completed by Leo Smee (bass) and Brian Dixon (drums). It’s fair to say they all make a splendid team! Much thanks to Dorrian’s signature voice, Cathedral is still what it was 16 years ago, with all due respect to Gaz’s fabulous guitar work and the grinding energy of Smee and Dixon, of course.

By the way, the album offers a guest appearance on almost angular vocals by an unknown female and a far-from-common Doom contribution on violin by someone not mentioned in the information made available to Metal Express Radio. Both efforts contribute considerable depth and perspective to the music. When all is added up: Cathedral (and guests!) appear vibrant, vital, and violent.

The Verdict

The Garden Of Unearthly Delights is likely to become a favorite among Cathedral fans (the best album yet?). Those less familiar with the band should understand that although hard to catch at first (hey, some songs are less than convincing first time around), this is a definite grower! If that’s not enough for you: the album is indeed worth buying for the sake of “The Garden” alone!


  • Frode Leirvik

    Frode was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Norway. His headbanging experience started when his brother-in-law gave him Deep Purple’s Fireball at the age of ten. Since then, he has also been a fan of and active in several other musical genres, resulting in a deep and profound interest in music. Some of his favorites, among all of those who have somehow managed to tap into the universal force of Progressive Music are (in no particular order): Thule, Dream Theater, King Crimson,Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock’s Beard, Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman, Ekseption, Focus, The Beatles, Deep Purple and Frank Zappa.

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