‘The Last Spire’ is Cathedral’s swansong, this will truly lay the band to rest…and this is a most fitting way to do so. ‘The Last Spire’ encapsulates all of the bands past releases almost by coincidence that include the many different avenues of their musical style they have recorded via each album over their illustrious career.
Some took a side step by the curveball of their last album, for me mainly due to the amount of prog-inspiration, but that also gained the band a lot more justifiable followers. If you are looking for a similar release then you will have to wait and listen hard. ‘The Last Spire’ sits firmly in the doom category, prog is a mere undertone on one or two songs that is only represented by occasional haunting keyboard pieces that are suitably apt and fitting enough to replenish your pallet for prog. The intensity of doom given off from ‘Pallbearer’ reminds me of ‘Endtyme’ and ‘Forest of Equilibrium’ combined and then there are tracks like the varied ‘An Observation’ that is far from cut and dried and it most certainly cannot be pigeonholed into one particular era or style. This pays homage to their latter couple of albums and their worldwide breakthrough ‘Ethereal Mirror’ release. Dorian’s vocals are at times the best he has laid down and there is still a terrifying sense of realism in his tone, you really do hear a personal story and this is a consistent marker evident on the remainder of the album.
Dynamics are rather important and on this album these are very mobile, not for one minute do you get tired, lonesome or wander from the prize…if undivided attention is a form of addiction then chastise me so as I have lived with this album a long time before I wrote and submitted this review, it grows with each listen and it really is a closing statement to end all statements. The final song you will hear from Cathedral is ‘This Body, Thy Tomb’ which harbours a career of influences, at first it is slow, then it picks up into a groove pace reminiscent of their mid-period (‘Carnival Bizarre’ to ‘Caravan Beyond Redemption’) before the track eventually overshadows the listener with its light and dark approach thus concluding this Cathedral journey in true eloquent style. Style is what you get from ‘The Last Spire’, whilst trends may come and go there has been a consistent driving force behind this band and if I pick up a quote from another source where Lee Dorrian has said “In the face of adversity, Cathedral have gone the distance” and how true this is.
Cathedral’s footprints are left behind to form part of musical legacy, a solid foundation for others to follow, Cathedral should not be forgotten and ‘The Last Spire’ is fitting testament and one of the finest releases by one of the UK’s leading doom pioneers. Cathedral leaves us with a respectful and heavy end to their recording career.
(9/10 Paul Maddison)