Released: 2006, Nuclear Blast
THE GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS is the first Cathedral album to catch my ears in a while. My favorite release of their’s has always been THE ETHEREAL MIRROR, and it remains so even after this album. There are songs on the new one that are every bit as good as Cathedral’s most brilliant work, however there are some moments on here that, for this reviewer at least, are unlistenable.
THE GARDEN OF UNEARTHLY DELIGHTS offers some of Cathedral’s darkest and heaviest work to date. The albums sound, driven by guitars, is crusty and over saturated. This is not an overproduced and slick sound at all. It’s much rawer then I’m used to listening to with new releases. After a few listens this has become one of the album’s charms. The album’s strongest moments are at the beginning. A pointless intro makes way for one of the better songs of the CD, “The Tree of Life And Death”. This is one of the heavier tracks with Lee spewing out some fine rhythmic vocals sounding quite aggressive. This is followed by another of the finer moments, “North Berwick Witch Trials” before the best song of the album, and currently one of my favorite Cathedral songs, “Upon Azrael’s Wings”. This one is a major nod to old Celtic Frost where vocalist Lee Dorrian sounds a hell of a lot like Tom G. Warrior to the point that it is uncanny!! It’s not only the vocals, but the riffs that remind me of the verses to Celtic Frost’s “Circle of the Tyrants”. “Corpsecycle” has more of a ‘happy’ feel to it when compared to some of the other tracks which overall are dark and doomy sounding anthems. Another standout is “Oro The Manslayer” which is one of the heavier tracks on here. The album then takes a nosedive after with what starts out as a promising song - “Beneath A Funeral Sun”. The song is fine until the part with the children’s(??) choir. It just sounds retarded and makes me angry enough to hit the skip button. This one is just too off the wall for me. Then it’s the extremely long (almost 30mins!) and boring track called “The Garden”. This one is not something you can describe in a few lines beyond saying it’s full of changes including female vocals, acoustic parts, heavy parts, etc. Overall the song drags on too long, and comes off as an incoherent mess. After a long gap comes the hidden(?) Bonus track “Proga-Europa”. It’s ok, but much too short.
In all, out of the 10 listed tracks on here, 6 of them are cool. Therefore the rating of 3/5. If the album did away with it’s flotsam, and replaced it with songs in the vein of “Ride” and “Midnight Mountain” we’d have a winner. However, as a casual fan of Cathedral, I can say that this album is worth checking out because while the album has a few flaws, it’s good moments are brilliant!