Review Summary: Cathedral's VIIth coming shows them taking the first baby steps to returning to a heavier, more doom-laden sound, but the stoner metal influences of this album's few predecessors sometimes suggest otherwise.The VIIth coming
more or less marks the mid-point of Cathedral's musical career, although the album itself doesn't necessarily deviate from the stoner metal rhythms of, say, Supernatural birth machine
or Caravan beyond redemption
. By this point the band had decided upon a more simplistic, immediate albeit no less mesmerizing sound, but it would be unfair to say that The VIIth coming
wasn't a starting point for the band to return to their doom metal roots.
You could be deceived by the album's first three songs and think to yourself “Well where's the doom then"”, but that's only because it takes more than one simple listen to discover for yourself. “Phoenix rising” and short but snappy number “Resisting the ghost” both hark back to the heavier sounds of the early 70s, producing groove-based structures and a mixture of bluesy riffs intertwined with Dorrian's still notable voice. However, after the relatively slower pace of “SkullFlower” comes the one-two punch of “Aphrodite winter” and “The empty mirror”, and it's with these two songs when you can really grasp the first real signs of Cathedral returning to their doom metal roots. This isn't to say that the album's first three songs aren't in any way heavy or mesmerizing as, say, “Night of the seagulls”, but a faster pace and more simplistic songwriting doesn't help either.
Instrumentation is as solid as it could ever be on The VIIth coming
. The drums, which although appear a little too high in the mix at times, are powerful in all the right ways, and this has been key to the band's musical evolution ever since they formed.The usage of mellotron and keyboard effects, mostly haunting the background of the recording as opposed to coming to the forefront, manage to give an extra small kick to the sound in general. However, it's simply the rhythm section which takes center stage throughout, guitar work proving eccentric though sometimes a little blander than it needs to be, and the way that it plods halfway through “Nocturnal fist” and “Congregation of sorcerers” just shows that the band simply go through the motions if they feel the need to. Fortunately this flaw isn't evident all that much, but it does tend to drag specific songs down, making for a somewhat incomplete finish. The bass-heavy intro of “SkullFlower” and melodic albeit sometimes monotonous acoustic guitar-led “Aphrodite winter” both make for a variable sound which works in Cathedral's favour, and the musicianship in this respect helps to keep the sound generally consistent. Dorrian's voice has always put some off listening to Cathedral altogether, and it doesn't help that on songs such as “Phoenix rising” or “The empty mirror” his voice frankly shows his age as well.
Thankfully, The VIIth coming
is ended perfectly with “Halo of fire”, a hint that in the forthcoming years the band would dabble with more doom-laden sounds as if the early 90s never moved on. That said, Cathedral's seventh album isn't exactly average, thanks to solid instrumentation and a key willingness to change the musical style now and again, but with a few flawed songs this album could have been even better. It's great, but in the end there is a risk of leaving the listener wanting so much more. For fans of the band, it's appropriately ideal.