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Review: Cathedral - Forest of Equilibrium
Forest of Equilibrium

Label: Earache Records
Year released: 1991
Duration: 54:09
Tracks: 7
Genre: Doom Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: September 16, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
Forest of Equilibrium

Rated 4.45/5 (89.09%) (11 Votes)

Formed by Lee Dorian after he got tired of making incomprehensible noise with Napalm Death, Cathedral trudged out the gate in the exact opposite direction with one of the cornerstones of Stoner Doom and arguably Doom/Death with their debut, Forest of Equilibrium. Far from the quirky, Sabbathine stylings of later albums, this is an exercise in slow, pitiless Doom encompassed in a suffocating atmosphere of hazy despair and drug-induced confusion. Outside of the short and punchy "Soul Sacrifice", every song on here is a long, winding maze of crushing, serpentine riffs and plodding rhythms led by the demented, mournful vocals of Lee Dorian that often border on a death grunt, certainly a far cry from the energetic rantings found on later albums.

This came out in a time when Doom was an even smaller pond than it currently is, and it says something that even today this is an extreme example of the kind of scornful sorrow the genre can conjure up. However, that very excess is one of my problems with the album, as its dedication to playing at 5 rpm throughout means a lot of the songs end up sounding alike. Opener "Commiserating the Celebration" is both the longest and the best song on here by virtue of having some groovy leadwork and a fairly killer solo near the end, and there are a few nontraditional instruments thrown in to keep things a little varied, ranging from flutes to organs to even an eerie music box melody that closes out "Equilibrium". However, most of the songs lack a distinct identity in and of themselves, making the album sort of drag on in a depressive blur of distortion and despair that I find a bit much to take in all at once.

But then, that dragging sensation is the whole point of this. The mission statement of this album was to take Doom to its then logical extreme, and it did such a good job that it still gets held as the gold standard of that extreme. I can't say that this is Cathedral's best album, but it is their most iconoclastic, and certainly deserves a place in your collection.

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