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Cathedral - Stained Glass Stories CD (album) cover

STAINED GLASS STORIES

Cathedral

 

Symphonic Prog

3.78 | 179 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars When one approaches progressive rock, and in particular if you examine the early incarnations of the genre, you are bound to come across bands that have left such an impact on the progression of prog that it sometimes feel as though they invented the whole thing on their own. That is certainly not tthe case but still, quite a few bands created a musical universe so personal and unique in tone that they are almost immediately recognizable. Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Magma, Jethro Tull' The list is quite long. So, bearing that in mind there is little wonder that bands of the 70's found influence and inspiration in these acts. Who wouldn't?

There is sometimes put upon prog bands to be so utterly unique that it becomes nigh on impossible. Influences can be heard in many bands and being inspired by others is certainly no crime. To steal Yes blind is not alright, obviously, but nodding in their direction is perfectly alright.

Cathedral, then. What about them? It is interesting that the album was released as late as 1978, a time where prog (supposedly) lived in a state of oblivion due to the punk wave and what not. At that time Cathedral decided to record their album of classic prog, harking back to the glory days of early 1970's. It is true that there are quite a few nods to some bands and their sound. In particular I find that the Yes and Gentle Giant influences are clearly audible. The

So, does that mean Cathedral could be named Yes Giant? No. That is not the conclusion I am willing to draw. They are certainly an entity of their own.

The music is very complex with a multitude of parts and sections, in particular the longer tracks. There are very beaautiful, pastoral passages that are simply gorgeous. These parts act as soothing interludes before and after decidedly more challenging outbursts.

The instruments are not simply accompanying each other, in the sense that drums act as a metronome and the bass adds depth. Though the music builds as an entity every instrument acts on their own, adding spice and texture. It is almost like one has forged completely different tracks and put them together.

Cathedral plays a very challenging type of prog. It balances, sometimes, on the verge of dissonance and free form but manages to balance on the edge of the abyss without ever falling towards it's dark bottoms.

The most challenging piece is the opener, I think. This is really complex stuff and at first I stood astounded and dumbfounded, not really knowing what to make of Cathedral. It took a few listens and the puzzle unravelled itself. This is really a beauty to behold, or hear. Many a section and racing forwards, with only the occasional breather to catch the breath it is really a masterpiece of complexity. This track shows the very great promise and potential of this band.

'Gong' is an interesting little instrumental, similar in tone to the bands I've mentioned. 'The crossing' is an intense piece of progressive rock that takes my breath away. It is like being strapped to the top of a rocket and being projected straight into the heavens. One of the highlights and probably the shortest, clocking in at a 'mere' 6 minutes. The second last track 'Days & changes' is just as great as anything on here. The final, epic piece is truly wonderful. Amazing keyboards and instrumentation throughout this beautiful piece. In that song there is also a very Fripp-like sounding guitar which brings back images of early King Crimson, around Lizard.

When all is said and done, is this album anything to shout about? I'd say so. Though very much in line with early incantations of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and some Genesis the concoction is quite delicious. They never stray or lose focus. The vision of music as a melting pot of genres is as genuine as with any other band. While they may not put forth, as already stated, a record of totally groundbreaking music that's never been heard prior to this, the end result is a magical slice of prog. Highly competent and visionary.

I find that, as with any great progressive album, new things pop up with every listen. 'There's a bas slick I didn't hear before' or 'That mellotron really is scary' and so forth. It is challenging, at times demanding and truly rewarding. If you dare step into the cathedral you will find it filled to the brim with light, excellent music and love of the genre. Because that's the greatest sensation here, the overwhelming love and commitment to the genre. Truly a lost gem, only recently receiving some recognition, and that's about time.

Rating: 4 stars

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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