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CATHEDRAL is usually mentioned with other 70s American prog bands like YEZDA URFA and MIRTHRANDIR. Those three bands played symphonic-prog influenced mostly by YES and early GENESIS (although YEZDA URFA showed a strong GENTLE GIANT influence). And it had a profound influence on CATHEDRAL. The listener will instantly notice that CATHEDRAL were quite aggressive for a mid-seventies prog band, and the band wastes little time exploring action-packed sections in each track. The bass/drum interplay was one of the first things to catch my attention. Not only does the bassist and drummer lock into complex and aggressive grooves, but the drummer was also allowed to fill most of the tracks with additional percussive instruments. The guitarist is the next musician to stand out. Try to imagine Robert FRIPP as an American guitar player. The guitar-riffs are dissonant, yet have a twangy, Southern, sound to them. The keyboardist is also impressive.
Along with the standard hammond organ, and assorted instruments, he uses a very unusual mellotron (maybe it was sick or something that day) which gives the album a unique sound. The two complaints that I tend to hear about this band includes that the vocalist was rather average, and that the band borrowed heavily from YES. Personally, I have no problems with the singer. Yes, he is the weakest member of the band and he strains through a few parts. But, especially if you're familiar with MIRTHRANDIR, after repeated plays your ears quickly get use to his style. It's also true that a few parts sound exactly like some parts from "Relayer" (especially the intro here). But, to be fair, the majority of album sounds original. Aside from a few riffs that remind me of some YES melodies, the majority of the themes here are unique. Anyway, this impressive album was carefully crafted from beginning to end, and it is a perfect introduction to the seventies American-prog scene.
This album is an absolute hidden gem and when I was listening to it the first time, I've got the impression as if YES and KING CRIMSON would have released a Mega-masterpiece together. On their one and only album US band CATHEDRAL is offering long and very intricate compositions with heavy demands, Mellotron tunes and odd guitar arpeggios that remind at KC and very dominating Rickenbacher-bass sound reminiscent of Chris Squire. Sometimes one can even recognise some very typical Steve Howe-riffs (like from CTTE or TFTO, without wanting to say that those were just rip-offs), especially in the song Days & Changes. But they were anything else than just another Yes-clone like STARCASTLE for example. Their sound was really very original and unique and overall there is no direct resemblance to any other band present. The weakest point of the album, if there is any at all, might be that they did not have a great vocalist like Peter Gabriel, John Wetton or Jon Anderson. It doesn't mean that Paul Seal's vocals are really bad, but as well not perfectly fitting to the music. If comparable at all his timbre is a bit similar to that of Wetton's but of course his voice does not have the same quality.
Already the opener Introspect is an excellent track with intricate guitar/bass riffing, mellotron sound and drumwork which is just mind-blowing. Fred Callen's bass playing is really awesome and guitarist Rudy Perrone sounds like a hybrid of Howe and Hackett. In Gong one can fully concentrate on the music without getting distracted by vocals. Really great melodies and intricate structure, and here it's revealing that they do sound different from YES, more direct and rocking in a way, not that much polished. Actually all the other tracks are really excellent as well. I could not tell which is the best one. They are all outstanding!
CONCLUSION This album is an absolute ESSENTIAL and unique one and MUST HAVE in any prog collection! 4 1/2 stars because both musicianship and composition are excellent! [Source - progarchives.com]
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