Cathedral - The Ethereal Mirror
Earache Records
Doom Metal
10 songs (54'20")
Release year: 1993
Cathedral, Earache Records
Reviewed by Adam
Archive review
Undoubtedly, most of you have heard the term “arena rock” applied to bands whose anthemic and larger than life sound seems meant to be played for large crowds. While it is highly unlikely a doom band would ever fill up an arena, England’s Cathedral delved into what I would call “arena doom” on their second full-length album, The Ethereal Mirror. Many consider this stark change from the bottomless depths of their debut Forest of Equilibrium to be the beginning of the band’s road toward a “stoner rock” style (a term Lee Dorrian apparently loathes).

Lee Dorrian is familiar to many, from his contribution to the classic Napalm Death album Scum and on through his run as the lead singer of Cathedral, so he doesn’t need much of an introduction. With that, I want to take this opportunity to shower some well-earned praise on guitarist Garry “Gaz” Jennings, especially on this album with its showcasing intro. Yes, Violet Vortex is a two minute cavalcade of rocking doom riffs that are so good, I was a bit sad that some of them were not fleshed out into proper tracks. Among the pantheon of doom riffmeisters, Jennings belongs near the top, and this track is prime evidence. In fact, I go so far as to call this “intro” one of the best tracks on The Ethereal Mirror. Following that, the riff of the first song Ride sounds a bit elementary, but manages to stay afloat. That is when Lee first appears, belting out his sleazy and gravelly style that can best be described as sounding dirty. The riff groove combined with Mark Ramsey Warton’s galloping drums make for a much more upbeat sounding Cathedral than that of the preceding album. Of course, these are mixed in with thick slabs of true doom that were employed more frequently on Forest of Equilibrium. Witness the opening riff of Enter the Worms, a song which in retrospect is probably one of the better combinations of both styles. The pendulum tends to swing one way or the other depending on the level of restraint used by Warton. When his pace is almost funky in nature (see Midnight Mountain), the band as a whole tend to take on a more supercharged heavy rock feel, which lends to the "arena doom" sound I referred to earlier. On the flipside, when Jennings’ anvil-like riffs are the focal point, as in Phantasmagoria, the sound is more true doom. Speaking of which, the latter has got to be the heaviest track in the Cathedral catalogue, with a supremely dense and low main riff that carries it. The constant on this album is the stellar job by Jennings. To further compliment his mammoth riffs, he occasionally throws in white hot leads and solos, as in Grim Luxuria. It is a relative certainty that you will find a head nodding moment in just about every one of these ten songs.

Rather than ramble on, let me just say that if you enjoy a good doom riff that is equal parts heavy and groovy, The Ethereal Mirror is the album for you. I can appreciate that Lee’s vocals tend to be a little over the top for some. I personally think they fit perfectly, but at times they grate on me a little as well. Regardless, the riffs found on this album are more than worth the price of admission, and this album still stands as one of Cathedral’s best some 15+ years later.
Killing Songs :
Violet Vortex, Enter the Worms, Phantasmagoria
Adam quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Cathedral that we have reviewed:
Cathedral - In Memoriam reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Cathedral - The Last Spire reviewed by Charles and quoted 92 / 100
Cathedral - The Guessing Game reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Cathedral - Endtyme reviewed by Charles and quoted 93 / 100
Cathedral - Supernatural Birth Machine reviewed by Charles and quoted 79 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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