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Review: Cathedral - The Ethereal Mirror
The Ethereal Mirror

Label: Columbia Records
Year released: 1993
Duration: 54:22
Tracks: 10
Genre: Doom Metal


Review online: September 21, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.59/5 (91.76%) (17 Votes)

Amazing what a couple of years can do for a band. Cathedral started off as the apotheosis of slow, nihilistic Doom, and then with their second album started a movement in the genre that was almost completely opposite. The Ethereal Mirror does away with the nightmarish dirges of Forest of Equilibrium and instead takes the hint of Sabbathine groove and ‘70s psychedelia flourishes they had and cranks them up to 11. It’s easy to see why this change in sound netted them a record deal with Columbia Records and why it was their breakthrough album, and even easier to see how it helped to inspire a number of bands to make what is now known as Stoner Metal.

That said, Cathedral don’t really rely on gimmicks like many of their imitators do. Instead of abusing the wah peddle and making stupid feedback noises like, say, Electric Wizard, Cathedral were about the almighty riff, and here they laid down some of the best in Doom. The album is nearly evenly split between hooky, propulsive rockers like "Ride", "Grim Luxuria", and the goofy, balls-out rocker "Midnight Mountain" and slower, more involved songs like the crawling "Enter the Worms", the desperate "Jaded Entity", and the towering album highlight "Fountain of Innocence". Some of the later songs may not have as much identity, but each one is filled with grooving riffs and some gorgeous lead work and solos.

If there is a possible sticking point, it would be Lee Dorian, who had at this point adopted his now trademark deranged style that sounds like Cronos doing a bad Ozzy impression after eating a brick of marijuana. He can sound really silly in places, but in my book his bizarre, energized ravings give the band a lot of identity and only adds to the delightfully macabre feel of the album. They may have started slower than sin, but with this, Cathedral proved that Doom still had a place in the Metal scene when Death Metal was starting to take over the world, and that it could rock just as hard as it did when Sabbath first formed the genre. Classic for a reason.

More about Cathedral...
Review: Endtyme (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
Review: Forest of Equilibrium (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: Soul Sacrifice (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: The Carnival Bizarre (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: The Garden Of Unearthly Delights (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Guessing Game (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
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