Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Forest of Equilibrium

I’m listening to Cathedral’s brilliant album Forest of Equilibrium this morning, and the record collector-completist in me is always frustrated by bands that turn in one great record and fill the rest of their discography with duck eggs and while Cathedral disciples will balk at that comment (nine more albums followed), the band never did make anything near essential as their 1991 debut. I’ve raided songs from their later albums on youtube before posting this and it’s surprising how uncompromising this early Forest of Equilibrium incarnation of the band was, with those sluggish monolithic, low-end riffs suggestive of a lumbering piece of heavy machinery running out of gas. Apart from the NWOBHM-boogie of the track Soul Sacrifice, one might imagine the band recording the album in a vat of molasses. I was just looking thru the CD booklet and on the Thanks & Acknowledgements page there are mentions for Black Sabbath and Pentagram (naturally), but also for Comus, Diamanda Galas, Goblin and Dead Can Dance, which may account for the album’s disorientating beauty – the pastoral flute refrain that ushers in the huge opening riff of Commiserating the Celebration, the eerie synthesizer textures of the album closer, Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain; and perhaps the highlight of the record, the long coda of the title track in which the roar of distorted guitars fades out to be replaced by the chimes of a music box which might have strayed from one of Hellraiser’s Lemarchand's boxes. Lee Dorrian retains the hoarse voice of his Napalm Death days but the indecipherable growl heard on From Enslavement to Obliteration has retreated into a sorrowful, pleading lamination, And worth mentioning too, Dave Patchett’s stunning Bosch-inspired artwork (which looked especially spectacular on the gatefold LP) which seems to have taken its cue from the strange, unsettling tangle of inhuman voices that closes The Serpent Eve


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