Cathedral - Caravan Beyond Redemption
Earache Records
Doom, Heavy Metal
12 songs (1:12:55)
Release year: 1998
Cathedral, Earache Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Cathedral’s mid-period albums often get ignored by the Metal press, for some reason known only to them. Yet these albums are, of course, pretty damned good. Doom as a genre suffers from a complete lack of humour, probably why it mostly stayed underground and kvlt whilst the more easy-going Stoner scene got the attention, yet England’s Cathedral were there to save the day when all else failed. Of all their albums, 1998’s Caravan Beyond Redemption seems to be amongst the least reverential in attitude, and yet it’s an awesome album. Fine, they may have gone back to their True Doom roots on 2001’s kickass Endtyme, but just before that there was serious danger of crossover mainstream appeal for the Coventry-based Doombahs. Earache are known for pushing their acts towards success (and that’s not always a criticism, guys) and the catchy Doom/Heavy Metal on Caravan... is more than worthy of reappraisal. For one, the experimental approach the band toyed with is more obvious here than anywhere else, opening song Voodoo Fire alone not just having a carnival-esque opening, but also having tribal drumming, a scared Frenchman, manic screaming and (and!) an acoustic breakdown, all without detracting one bit from what is undeniably a kickass Doom song.

Throughout the album, the songwriting is equally as fantastic. Voodoo Fire is followed up by the subtly political nuance of The Unnatural World, another great song, with catchy vocal lines for those that want it and awesome riffs and solos for those that don’t. The band themselves are, as usual, excellent, Lee Dorrian his usual over the top self, whilst Gary Jennings and Leo Smee on guitar and bass crank out the riffs, and capable drummer Brian Dixon provides a variety of backing beats. Although they experiment, Cathedral stay close to the Doom; Satanikus Robotikus full of beautifully downtuned riffs, a cautionary anti-religious tale that’ll have you headbanging whilst you burn your Bibles – plus, Satanic robots! 60s-style anthem Freedom introduces an awesome Classic Rock style that’ll have you grooving like your parents did back in the day, a spectacular instrumental section touching the mystical realm of Prog for a moment before it all falls back to awesome Doom riffing. I use the word ‘awesome’ with cause; of all the Doom bands out there Cathedral are one of the few that truly deserve it. The catchiness of Captain Clegg, the psychedelic Stoner-Metal-vibe of Earth Messiah, whatever it is, you can guarantee that Cathedral do it damn well.

That so far only half the album has been described shows what a great record this is. The Caravan, a three-minute instrumental, cuts the album in half with style before Revolution bursts forth with gorgeous Sludge Metal riffage, switching to more catchy funkiness partway through. Kaleidoscope Of Desire is more laid-back, almost Rock N’Roll at times, Heavy Load returns to the Classic Rock, whilst finale Dust Of Paradise is a Doom cherry atop a perfectly-shaped cake. In many ways, Cathedral albums are the best possible introduction to the great genre that anyone could have, and Caravan Beyond Redemption is truly a great album, almost as good as my personal favourite from the band, The Carnival Bizarre. It just beats Caravan... due to an even tighter set of songs – this album can sometimes feel like it meanders, not always a bad thing, but if you want as full a Cathedral experience as it’s possible to get, that should be on the list first. A second place for Caravan Beyond Redemption is no shame, considering that the band haven’t made a poor album yet, and you certainly won’t be disappointed with it.

Killing Songs :
Voodoo Fire, The Unnatural World, Freedom, Captain Clegg, Earth Messiah, Revolution, Heavy Load, The Omega Man, Dust Of Paradise
Goat quoted 89 / 100
Thomas quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Cathedral that we have reviewed:
Cathedral - In Memoriam reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Cathedral - The Last Spire reviewed by Charles and quoted 92 / 100
Cathedral - The Guessing Game reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Cathedral - The Ethereal Mirror reviewed by Adam and quoted 90 / 100
Cathedral - Endtyme reviewed by Charles and quoted 93 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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