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'The Garden of Unearthly Delights'

(CD - Sep. 26th, 2005 - Nuclear Blast recs)

MARK: 80/100


Lee Dorrian is a guy who doesn't like to repeat himself and isn't worried about disappointing the audience with unexpected songs. Such is the case of this 8th album, which Nuclear Blast has decided to release with a very light green apple scent released when rubbed or heated.
It's an all digitally-drawn artwork with Bosch and Dali-influenced themes, in particular Bosch's tryptic oil painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" . The disc tray in my possession is all white, making the final product a bit different than the mainstream ones.
On the disk surface a green apple is printed, the same fruit found on the front cover (obviosuly a reference to Adam and Eve), but most CD versions of this record contain a white CD with a couple of strange creatures on it. The front cover depicts the apple with two big holes, where a tail and a snake come out from. There's also a big hole where a possessed skeleton comes out from holding a knife in its right hand. It's embraced by a hooded witch from behind. All around are strange animal creatures, some anthropomorphic (for instance a demon, a horned totem-faced being). One of the remaining creatures reminds me of a moth and another a small dinosaur, while deformed leafless trees emerge from a white background.
It's also nice to see the band's logo formed by creepy heavily-haired trees. The back-cover is a side extension of the one appearing on the front. There appear more bizarre creatures completing the subject on the front side together with the song titles.
The 12-page booklet is made by lyrics, a net on the background and some of the creatures met before, with the addition of a skull belonging to a bison or a dinosaur on the first part of the booklet. Two pages are dedicated to a photo where Cathedral are playing and recording in a studio. On the next page we find a skeleton in an unnatural position, on the next a human living thing wearing a gown reminding a night butterfly, and on the following a skeleton brandishing a scythe. The ensuing two pages show images already seen on the cover, to which a creature with too big a head and horns for its body and a futuristic creature, maybe a robot-mermaid are added. The last page of the booklet contains all of the info about the people who recorded and realized this album, a thanks-list and the rest of the artwork, which is a bit diverse than the one on the back cover.
The best thing to do is to buy the poster (see attached image above), because only there the complete artwork is exposed and there is much more to see near that twisted and fallen giant tree where almost all of those creatures are sitting.

The songs are 9, plus an untitled hidden track (called on other sources "Proga-Europa"), which is preceded by a 5-minute silence.
The lyrics touch these topics:

* the tree of life being desecrated by Adam and Eve thus condemning the generations to come to a disagraced world donìinated by mutations and death.
* a failed sabbath to kill the king of England, that resulted in the sentence of 39 women to be publicly sent to the stake, crucifixed or hanged in 1591.
* a sky travel on Azrael's wings, come to rid us of human misery. (This is the best written and smoothest piece of lyrics of the album along with the previous one).
* London's living dead in mourning suits enslaved to wealth's research.
* Oro, a man assassin, that has come to Earth to bring death with its sword.
* mankind's extinction under a funeral fireless sun.
* the fall of men from the Garden of Eden on account of Satan, the tempter presented in an animal and human form until the end of the doomed Earth.

The production by Warren Riker, already behind the board with Crowbar, Down, Mnemic, On A Pale HorseKill Devil Hill, Negative, Evanescence, and a bunch of non-Metal artists, is fairly good, balanced, not slamming. Although not always crystal-clear, it does its job and doesn't hide the bass, which indeed has a lot to express on this offering. The recording took place quickly in May 2005.



The album starts well with "Dearth AD", an intro composed by noises and demonic voices before the entrance of "Tree of Life & Death". This piece blends groovy Hard Rock and Metal, it's also catchy and danceable until an acceleration appears; then, a few lugubrious Doom Metal touches follow, next a bizarre break has access before an acceleration and a colourful guitar solo, coming before the last strophe and refrain.
At the beginning of "North Berwick Witch Trials" a voice reads a sentence verdict for witches. After that, the music starts with some Doom Metal made lively by an open-sounding production, so far from the claustrophobic debut one. There's a ride with a good involving riff and afterwards vocals reminding me of Death SS'. This is a kind of Metal that defies every cataloging without being Prog or Avantgarde. The axe solo is mental, deviated and sarcastic, and it precedes a saucy riff and the adrenalinic main riffing already heard previously.
"Upon Azrael's Wings" is opened by a riff in the vein of the ancient Carcass which will be used later again on several occasions. The rest of the composition is based on Doom Metal rich in dynamic rifferama, sulphureous and hypnotizing dual vocal lines close to the early Tom Warrior's. All of the elements are repeated until a raging speed-up interrupted by a dreamy Funky/Prog Rock suspension with female distant vocals. Later on, the hammering energy returns, until we're catapulted into the initial all-sucking black hole, to then find the hammering again, accompanying us till the faded ending. The song was also featured on a compilation CD attached to a Terrorizer magazine issue.
Kicked off by a radio-friendly overture, "Corpsecycle" is a track that combines The Cult, Monster Magnet and Doom Metal with a lot of fuzz. Here the saturated bass and the medium frequency-rich guitars pair Lee's vocals, sooner harmonious, later declamatory. It's then time for a 'liquid' and long Rock 'n' Roll guitar solo, followed by a quite lengthy instrumental structure, that comes before the last minute. If you have to play Cathedral to someone unaccustomed to Metal, this might be the right track to convert them to their tunes!
"Fields of Zagara" is a rural intermezzo led by an acoustic guitar, which another string instrument (maybe a cello excerpted by a mellotron) is added upon, enriched by battle noises in the background until the conclusion.
The wicked and fast "Oro the Manslayer", an authentic pearl of never-aging Stoner Metal, goes at full throttle from the first instants backed up by lunatic aggressive vocal parts with spoken backing vocals. Two Motorhead-like instrumental intrusions and a galactic axe solo, the finest of the album, make this track the highlight. Successively, the verse-refrain reprise with short backing vocals and juicy guitar licks complete the picture.
"Beneath A Funereal Sun" displays rather happy Doom Metal until the intervention of scary children's voices sillabifying alternated with Lee's voice, who then restarts his declamations before being stopped by a nursery rhyme of the said kids. The singer later surprises everybody with shouts of desperation, and then it's the musicians' turn to stupify with a crazy cabaret section rendered by relaxed effected vocals, apparently a tribute to Zappa and the likes. A guitar solo pops out before all the previous elements come back. The instrumental conclusion is a blend of 70s Psychedelic Rock fading out.
Almost 27 minutes divided into 9 scenes compose "The Garden", a song growing gradually with violent tribal percussions. Then there's a pause, and then angelic female voices and an acoustic guitar. Suddenly we're assaulted by a majestic and crushing riff, followed by a muddy riff, in turn ensued by an unseemly, less rigid riff where Lee sings with impetuosity. We arrive at a Jazz/Prog Rock breakdown, then Hippie 60s vocals, suspended by monophonic Mr Bunglesque rhythms, all before a vibrating guitar solo. Another childish mini-break leads to an acoustic part with effected spoken words that precede a girl's vocals, an acoustic guitar duetting with a mellotron and later on delicate drumming. A new change sees pitch-black Doom Metal as a result, using suffering vocals in the sign of pure Sludge Metal. It's then time for a bass solo and alien mellotron, followed by assorted noises and sporadic sounds. Cathedral are relentless towards the confused and delighted listener, so they decide to variate crazily once again, this time with a Nu Metal/Prog Metal section. and afterwards a 70s Hard Rock pattern and riff completed by playful vocals. Some hopeless Doom Metal comes, utilizing drums in the spotlight in order to increase the track's heaviness until it's faded out. Guys, expect now a spoken word part with a violin, marching band drumming, a guitar riff that screams in pain, then Doom and Heavy Metal alternated with contrasting speeds, and finally a mellotron/guitar solo. Without a pause a female structure with angelic female vocals begins, a few seconds later replaced by Doom Metal moments with vocals in the background. This is faded out and leaves way to more charming celestial female vocals.
The last track, "Proga-Europa" is a semi-hidden track with a long silence followed by a brief catchy and hip-shaking Hard Rock portion.

Everything, lyrics and music included, revolves around a sense of absurdity, madness, rage, danger, deceit, doubt, mystery and suspect characters. It all permeates the listener, who cannot actually feel safe, as things are never what they seem. So is the music, apparently easy and joyful, in reality manipulating the public and leaving it with a hidden layer of Baroque wit to interpret.
The first full-length on Nuclear Blast records marks an era of Cathedral when they were quite distant from the abandoned lead-laden tunes of "Forest of Equilibrium", but they had also restarted to compose heavy material, this time with a touch of Progressive or quirk ingredients to make it more fun without bordering the dumb.

  MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 23rd September, 2021


01. Dearth AD 2005
02. The Tree of Life & Death
03. North Berwick Witch Trials
04. Upon Azrael's Wings
05. Corpsecycle
06. Fields of Zagara
07. Oro the Manslayer
08. Beneath A Funereal Sun
09. The Garden

  • "I. Thorns of Creation"
  • "II. Trouble in the Garden
  • "III. Into the Valley of the Violent Orchids"
    • a) Cadaverous Butterfly
    • b) Blind Man's Gate
  • "IV. Flight of the Reaper"
    • a) Court of the Cosmic Judge
    • b) Tunnel of Death
  • "V. Alarm Bells in Paradise"
    • a) Morning of a Paused Dawn
    • b) Black Bubophyllum Sunrise
  • "VI. Exit the Valley of Violent Orchids"
    • a) Through the Concrete Meadows of Life
    • b) Chains of Morality
  • "VII. Back to the Garden"
  • "VIII. Pool of Sleeping Minds"
  • "IX. Endtyme"

10. Proga Europa


In Memorium (demo - 1990)
Demo # 2 (demo - 1991)
Rock Hard Presents: Gods of Grind (Split - 1991)
Forest of Equilibrium (CD - 1991)
 ‎ Gods of Grind (split 1992)
Soul Sacrifice (EP - 1992)
Grim Luxuria (single - 1993)
Ride (single - 1993)
Twilight Songs (single - 1993)
Power Music Hard Force (split - 1993)
The Ethereal Mirror (CD - 1993)
After Forever (split - 1994)
Statik Majik (EP - 1994)
Cosmic Requiem (EP - 1994)
Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath sampler (split - 1995)
The Carnival Bizarre / Slaughter of the Soul (split - 1995)
New Metal Messiahs (split - 1995)
The Carnival Bizarre (CD - 1995)
Hopkins (The Witchfinder General) / Statik Majik (compilation - 1996)
Hopkins (The Witchfinder General (EP - 1996)
Supernatural Birth Machine (CD - 1996)
Caravan Beyond Redemption (CD - 1998)
In Memoriam (compilation - 1999)
Soul Sacrifice / Statik Majik (compilation - 1999)
Our God Has Landed (AD 1990-1999) (Video - 2000)
Gargolyan (single - 2001)
Endtyme (CD - 2001)
The VIIth Coming (CD - 2002)
The Serpent's Gold (compilation - 2004)
The Garden of Unearthly Delights (CD - 2005)
The Guessing Game (CD - 2010)
Live in London (EP - 2010)
Anniversary (Live album - 2011)
A New Ice Age (EP - 2011)
Vengeance of the Blind Dead (Flexi version) (single - 2013)
The Last Spire (CD - 2013)
Happy Fucking Birthday (split - 2018)
Freak Winter (Live album - 2020)
Return to the Forest (Live album - 2020)

Line-up on this record:

Lee Dorrian - v., samples (also in Septic Tank, With The Dead, Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine, ex-Napalm Death, ex-Armed Revolutionary Faction, ex-Pig Disease)
Gaz Jennings - g., percussions (also in Septic Tank, ex-Death Penalty, ex-Acid Reign, ex-Lucifer)
Brian Dixon - d., percussions (also in The Skull, ex-Horacane, ex-Arabia, ex-Caprice, ex-Contagious)
Leo Smee - b., mellotron, flute, synths, autoharp (also in Age Of Taurus, With The Dead, Chrome Hoof, ex-The Oath (live), ex-Trespass, ex-Firebird)


Coventry, West Midlands - England

Official sites:



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