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Cathedral - The Bridge CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.35 | 55 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's been years and years since Cathedral released their "Stained Glass Stories" album, an obscure symphonic prog album that went unnoticed by the big audiences of the late 70s but eventually became a collector's item for prog fans all over the world from the 90s onward. That album had set the standard of Cathedral's as one heavily influenced by 73-75 Yes, plus touches of Gabriel-era Genesis' melodic sense. Now, with almost the entire original line-up reformed, Cathedral created yet another beautiful repertoire of old fashioned symphonic prog rock encapsulated in the album "The Bridge". It is clearly defined under the usual rules of melodic richness, orchestral feel and long development of themes, but the Cathedral guys proficiently elude the traps of cloning (or self-cloning). "The Bridge" bears a very modern vibe to it, with a more agile set of instrumental arrangements and a tighter sense of rocking power. All who got to know and appreciate classic Cathedral perhaps will miss the first album's density that made it so special in its eerie beauty, and also will miss the use of a more powerful rhythmic foundation in the tracks' frameworks, but it is all in the balance between what is gone and what is new in this band's second era. None of these albums is perfect, but both have their own virtues. There is also a tendency to avoid the saturation of keyboard inputs, which helps Cathedral to become as tiring as the renewed Kaipa or Kayak can be at times. The 3-part 'Monsterhead Suite' kicks off the album with cosmic textures, soon developed into clear Yessian moods (never playing the "Starcastle card"). The guitars are prominent in the soloing department, while the keyboards are mostly busy elaborating orchestrations and layers. The mood shifts flow nicely, filling the 13+ minute musical journey with pleasant melodies and harmonic structures. The follower 'Satellite' bears a rockier punch, which makes it a bit catchier - yet, the use of weird melodic progressions keeps the track from being easy listening, particularly the dissonant elements that shape the guitar inputs and the Gentle Giant-ish keyboard flows. Even though this piece is not really that disturbing, its use of some weird ornaments is fully appreciated. 'Hollins' opens up with new cosmic textures (including a mellotronic choir), followed by a Hackett-style set of classical guitar chops. Once the main motif is settled down, the band creates a good balance of controlled complexity and tricky simplicity. The next track also gives special room for the classical guitar's flourishes: in the end, it is a very Baroque-inspired piece. 'Angular World', to some degree, picks up where 'satellite' had left, but all in all it gains a greater benefit from the longer expansion of its motifs. The explosive guitar solo delivered somewhere in the middle provides a special dose of intensity among the album's general moods. 'The Lake', in comparison, states a more mysterious vibe, with plenty of exotic colors: on the other hand, it is related to the framework that the band utilized for the preceding track. 'The Secret' is the album's closer, filling the last 11 minutes: as a compositional work, it is the most ambitious piece in the album, bringing the most colorful set of musical ideas to the fold. A special mention goes to the Theremin, provider of spacey interludes in the whole architecture of keyboards: the closing passage states a reminder of the good old "Stained Glass" days. The general ups and downs that I personally find in this album have been mentioned earlier - considering how much each individual track has impressed me, I regard "The Bridge" as a very good album, full of beauty and cleverly elaborated textures: in other words, yet another triumph by Cathedral.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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