Listening to the opening instrumental "Immaculate Misconception" from UK doomsters latest The Guessing Game, you'd almost think these retro metallers have been listening to their old Move or Gentle Giant records in the five years since their last release, Garden of Unearthly Delights. However, that thought quickly disappears with the 'Black Sabbath on acid' sounds of "Funeral of Dreams", a crushing mix of psychedelia and doomy hard rock. In fact, due to all the wonderful keyboard sounds here (sounding like Mellotron) that battle the guitar riffs it's almost like a jam between Sabbath and early King Crimson. It seems that Cathedral are now adding a healthy dose of prog to the mix, which for many will be a big plus.
Fear not those into the trademark riff rock that these Brits are known for, as this 2 CD set has plenty of that. Look no further than "Painting in the Dark", a delicious hard rocker with a killer riff, the crushing doom of "Edwige's Eyes", or the menacing "Death of An Anarchist" (complete with spooky Mellotron opening), both tunes that allow Cathedral to show their muscle. However, we know these guys can do the brontosaurus stomp as well as anyone, but to hear them put forth waves of golden Mellotron, flutes, recorders, and acoustic guitar on the glorious title track is a thing of beauty. Their marriage of brutal doom, trippy psychedelia, and 70's styled prog on the epic "Requiem for the Voiceless" works on all levels, and the haunting "The Running Man", complete with spooky keys, big riffs, and pounding drums, is a moody masterpiece.
What doesn't work here? Well, there's a bunch of short throwaway pieces that seem to serve little purpose, and "Journey Into Jade" sees the band trying to pull off some sort of punk/Motorhead style that seems rather odd. Also, Lee Dorrian gives one of his least impressive vocal performances overall. At times he's practically doing some sort of spoken work rap thing, which comes across as somewhat annoying. Perhaps he's gotten tired of his 'Tom G. Warrior' styled bark and wanted to try something a little different?
Overall though, The Guessing Game is another solid release from Cathedral. Perhaps it could have been pared down to a single CD set, but the strong tunes here are very good, and the inclusion of extra prog & psych influences have added a new dimension to their sound.
1. Immaculate Misconception 2:24
2. Funeral Of Dreams 8:28
3. Painting In The Dark 6:18
4. Death Of An Anarchist 7:13
5. The Guessing Game 3:08
6. Edwige's Eyes 7:08
7. Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine 6:01
8. One Dimensional People 2:31
9. The Casket Chasers 6:41
10. La noche del Buque Maldito (Aka Ghost Ship Of Blind Dead) 5:46
11. The Running Man 8:46
12. Requiem for the Voiceless 9:50
13. Journey Into Jade 10:36