Cathedral: The Bridge
Fred Callan – bass guitar, Taurus pedals, backing vocals
David Doig – acoustic & electric guitars
Paul Seal – lead vocals, percussion
Mercury Caronia IV – drums, gongs, bells, various electronic percussion, backing vocals
Tom Doncourt – mellotron, other keyboards, theremin, percussion, flute
Talk about procrastination. I think these guys hold the record. I mean it only took them almost three decades to record a follow up to their 1978 debut. Honestly, you have got to give CATHEDRAL a lot of credit. “Stained Glass Stories” may have garnered critical acclaim, but it wasn’t exactly a huge hit. However, renewed interest in it did cause a reformation. So, what can you expect from a band that only recorded one obscure album, and waited this long to do it again? Will they sound the same? Will they even be any good at all? Well, the answers are no, and a resounding yes. They have come back sounding as if they have been at it all along, evolving along the way. If I were not familiar with them, I would be thinking that I was hearing the latest album from a band with a long recording history. Where bands that have been recording for decades sound a bit stale (*cough* Yes), CATHEDRAL sounds fresh, and of the time. There is still a strong King Crimson influence, but it is latter day KC. There is mellotron, but it is being used in the spirit of present day artists like Deluge Grander. Amazingly, they have accomplished this with the lineup mostly intact, having made only one change in personnel.
They did follow a bit of the original formula, by book ending the album with epics. However, this time the opener and closer are musically unrelated. What they have done is created modern symphonic greatness. The blending of old and new techniques works flawlessly. The playing is as good as it gets, and the compositions demand recognition.
“The Monsterhead Suite” is an epic melange of beauty and quirky darkness. It will also give you your mellotron fix for the next month.
“Satellite” may be catchy, but don’t worry. It’s the kind of catchy thing that prog fans love. In other words, you friends will still think it’s weird.
“Hollins” takes you into a bit of space territory, but there is also an almost flamenco style guitar running through most of it. When electric, you can hear a bit of Gilmour influence. The vocal is melancholy, and serves the piece well.
“Kithara Interludium” is a beautiful acoustic number (Hackett anyone?).
“Angular World” is just what the name implies. This is full on modern King Crimson territory.
“The Lake” starts with a strong World Music vibe and then gradually transforms. By the end, it is firmly in symphonic land, but never quite loses that world essence.
“The Secret” is the closing epic, and the feet are now firmly planted in the new millennium. I mentioned Deluge Grander before, and I don’t know if they have been listening to Dan Briton’s stuff or not. If they haven’t, then they have been listening to the same stuff that influenced Dan. Here CATHEDRAL clearly establishes itself as a band of the present.
It’s called the “The Bridge” to refer to the gap that was bridged between albums. Not only have they done that, but they have also bridged the evolutionary gap. This is a fantastic album, and stands completely on it’s own from their previous work. I love them both, and I would if were two different bands (it almost sounds as if it is). CATHEDRAL has made an extremely strong new beginning, and this time prog is on the upswing. I look forward to more. This one was on my list for best of 2007.