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CATHEDRAL

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Cathedral biography
The roots of CATHEDRAL lie in a psychedelic band called Odyssey. When that band broke up in 1975, bassist Fred Callan, and mellotronist Tom Doncourt ventured on to form CATHEDRAL. The band was filled out by drummer Mercury Caronia IV, guitarist Rudy Perrone, and vocalist Paul Seal. They toured the Long Island club scene, and bravely decided to play original music. Instead of Pschedelic, they were taking more cues from the prog leaders of the time, the likes of King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and Gentle Giant. What Tom Doncourt refers to as a "majestic" sound.

In 1978 they got together with Delta Records, and recorded "Stained Glass Stories." 10,000 copies were printed and sold. Interestingly, Delta Records was not much more than a studio above the Palace Theater in Times Square. However, Delta did have connections to record chains, and had the likes of Duke Ellington and Allison Steele recording right alongside. It was very much like the independent labels of today. New York City itself was fertile territory for progressive rock at the time. Tom Doncourt tells stories of turning old movie theaters into concert halls for one night stands. They built the stages, put in lighting, and wired the spaces for sound themselves.

All of this led to interest from Atlantic Records. They had some meetings, but this was the end of the '70s. The popularity of prog was rapidly declining. So a second album was not to be (or was it?). This did not diminish the importance of "Stained Glass Stories." It became a highly valued collectible, and the subject of much critical acclaim. Some have even called it the best American prog album ever. Renewed interest in prog led Syn-Phonic to re-release the album on CD in 1990.

As prog began to rise again, so did interest in CATHEDRAL. Finally, in 2003, Fred Callan called on his band mates once again. They brought old and new equipment, and had a mission to create progressive music that was true to its history, but not limited by it. The played together, and experimented for three years. Then they entered the studio. The process proved to be too much for Rudy Perrone, and he left the group. The thought of adding a new guitarist to the mix was a source of great anxiety. The guys were blessed to find David Doig. His sensibilities proved to gel right with the vision of the band. After almost 30 years, they released their second album. 2007's "The Bridge" is the follow up, and also a new beginning. In Early 2008, the band sig...
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Ethereal MirrorEthereal Mirror
Earache Records 1996
Audio CD$8.99
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CATHEDRAL discography


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CATHEDRAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.75 | 111 ratings
Stained Glass Stories
1978
3.42 | 30 ratings
The Bridge
2007

CATHEDRAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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CATHEDRAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Bridge by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.42 | 30 ratings

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The Bridge
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by progpositivity
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Although its cosmic and symphonic elements probably make 1969-1970 King Crimson a more accurate reference point, I find much of this music surprisingly reminiscent of some of Adrian Belews 80's work with Talking Heads (except with many more moods, tempos, and arrangements).

Vocals are strong throughout, often evocative of (a more precise version of) John Wetton. In rare sensitive moments, however, they sound oddly similar to Gabriel-era Genesis. There is a certain restrained, non-heavy, non-metallic vibe that may come across as a lack of urgency and low level of energy to some listeners. That said, The Bridge has much worthy of recognition and appreciation: dramatic flair, varied symphonic arrangements, tastefully angular guitar, bass lines which are actually meaningful within the compositions. Unfortunately, the ability to appreciate them is to some extent dependent upon one's ability to disassociate this album from Cathedral's classic 1978 debut, a feat which some prog fans may have no desire to attempt and one which the majority of the remainder may find difficult to accomplish.

If this band is guilty of anything, however, it is perhaps only the transgression of actually trying to catch lightning in bottle a second time after all these years. Even so, I respect them for having the courage to 'give it a go' in a new and different way this time around - so many years after their beloved debut. Recommended.

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 really

Cathedral, this cult band from USA with thier legendary debute album Stained glass stories from 1978. This album is considered one of the best progressive rock albums USA ever offered with a considerable amount copies sold in that period, around 12.000 copies printed and sold , when prog was in decline on every corner of the globe. Well, I see this album a good one towards great but not a masterpieces as many pretend to be, second, this is slightly symphonic prog to my ears, this is almost zeuhl in parts with blistering very in front bass lines and even jazzier moments appear here and there. This album is quite complex, I mean the bass lines of Fred Callan are really impressive and chalenging, it can be considered a real zeuhl bass player. Another thing the vocal parts are very Gentle Giant like, quite dissonant passages, not bad at all but nothing special either. Now the music besides this zheul/jazzier falavour, it has a certyain Yes feel to it, in guitar department, Rudy Perrone has a guitar tone very similar with Steve Howe one around Relayer, Going for the one era, also some similarities with another american prog band Starcastle, here and there aswell. Only 5 pieces with opener and ending track clocking around 11-12 min are to me the most promissing effort of the band. Complicated, twisted prog rock with very tight musicianship and some excellent instrumental sections. I really like this album, but I can't find it a masterpiece or something alike, is a good one for sure and stands as one of the best from the '70s from USA. 3.5 stars, nice cover art.

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Although bracketed under the symphonic sub-genre banner, little-known American outfit Cathedral are in actual fact much more Van Der Graaf Generator or Emerson, Lake & Palmer than say Genesis or Yes, though in truth their sound probably falls somewhere in between. Released in 1978, 'Stained Glass Stories' treads a curious path, with a sound characterized by oddly-calibrated guitar riffs, thick, galloping basses and a plethora of keyboards - moogs, synths, mellotrons and electric pianos all appear - which tend to dominate the group's sound. To put it mildly, we are slap bang in the middle of unashamedly full-blown prog-rock territory here, with the emphasis firmly on the progressive, the Cathedral sound edged with a serious and occasionally-mournful art-rock veneer which eschews the playful melodies and emotive streaks found in the very best of the genre whilst simultaneously eroding any 'rock' ingredients, making for a sound that juxtaposes soft, classically-tinged sections with harsh, dissonant passages. It's not an altogether pleasant listen, the group's over-emphatic approach and multiple use of different instruments producing a strangely cluttered effect, whilst the addition of lead-singer and percussionist Paul Seal's odd vocals seems excessively, almost deliberately, off-key. Whilst there's no denying the actual musical abilities of the five Cathedral members - Seal is augmented by Fred Callan(bass), Tom Doncourt(keyboards), Rudy Perrone(guitars) and the strangely-named Mercury Caronia(drums) - the group's overall sound remains condescendingly over-emphatic and simply far too busy for it's own good. This is best summed up in the two longest pieces which bookend the album, with both the ever-shifting 'Introspect' and the final, eleven-minute-plus 'The Opening' overcooked to the point of tedium. A complex, cold and fussy album that borrows heavily from a number of superior British groups, in thend 'Stained Glass Stories' ultimately suffers from a complete lack of emotion, rendering much it's skilfully-played content strangely empty.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars About a year ago I posted my first review on PA. Reason enough to crawl out of my summer hide-out for a couple of reviews. But contrary to my cheerful nature I won't take the occasion to applaud a series of masterpieces. Instead I decided to make a real nuisance of myself by selecting a couple of popular PA titles that I either find inferior or that I can't bear to listen to.

Cathedral hails from US and has nothing ado with the UK band of the same name that spread doom and gloom over the UK back in the 90ties. This Cathedral is a Prog outfit clinging on strongly to a sound that sits somewhere between Foxtrot and The Yes Album, with prominent bass guitar, dynamic drumming, big organ and mellotron waves and frantic lead guitars. Their vintage sound must sure have inspired bands such as Anglagard, Sinkadus and more recently Wobbler.

The compositions are promising, inspired and natural. But there's a but. The recording can sound a bit amateurish at times, especially when vocalist Paul Seal chooses to disgrace the nice musical flow with his grating vocals, trying to add some Gentle Giant cleverness to the stew but resulting in a sloppy, strained and over affected performance that is melodically very poor and often almost out of key. He is the unfortunate weak link that diminishes the possible excellence of this album to plain average.

Stained Glass Stories delivers the kind of Prog we want to hear, but your listening pleasure will largely depend on your success in tuning out the vocals. Even if the album is mostly instrumental, I can't. The music is worth 4 solid stars, the vocals about 0.5.

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars One of the finest examples of late-70's US Prog by a band,who got lost for over thirty years before returning in the 00's with a new album.CATHEDRAL's roots can be found on the psych rock outfit Odyssey,with whom bassist Fred Callan and keyboardist Tom Doncourt recorded two albums.The band split up in mid-70's,just when they were moving onto a more progressive sound,but Callan and Doncourt continued with CATHEDRAL,what they left unfinished with Odyssey.''Stained glass stories'' was published in 1978 and got a CD re-issue in 1989 on Syn-Phonic.

STYLE: The album falls fairly in the Symphonic Prog genre but I wouldn't recommend it to initiators of progressive rock.''Stained glass stories'' ranks among the most adventuruous and complex albums of late-70's classic prog with ever-changing moods and sudden breaks all the way and a battle among strong complicated moments and quieter acoustic passages loaded with keyboards.One reason for its complexity is Callan's bass work,which is trully unbelievable.Vocals,delivered by Paul Seal,are quite decent having an expressive theatrical approach.A very good guitarist ,named Rudy Perrone ,is responsible for the melodic touches of the music.Organ and especially mellotron sound pretty good and 45 minutes of music split in 5 tracks can only guarantee a unique sounding rock experience.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: Often a copy of YES,CATHEDRAL are after the traces of their heroes in their complicated phase.Compatriots ETHOS and YEZDA URFA are good reference points as well.

PLUS: It's not often that I speak for a bassist but this time Fred Callan is the man to notice in this album.One of the greatest bassist I have ever heard,who torments its Rickenbacker bass.Those after complex Symphonic Prog will find a certain long-time stop here,as ''Stained glass stories'' is one of the finest LP's of the style.Acoustic passages are also top notch,a great combination of acoustic guitar covered with symphonic keys and great bass.Speaking of keys,mellotron is used as often as it should be,creating a grandiose and haunting atmosphere.

MINUS: Not that original music with 1972-1974 period YES coming in mind every now and then,with Perrone sounding a lot like STEVE HOWE.Complexity is a good thing but the guys overdo it at moments with endless breaks and the whole thing doesn't work always succesful (at least to my ears).Vocal work is good,but it's not always succesfully connected with the music.

WILL APPEAL TO: Already written: complex Classic/Symph Prog fans and especially YES followers...but this album is a good example why progressive rock is not simply yet another rock path.

CONCLUSION/RATING: I really enjoyed this album,though it is hard to follow it at some points.I have listened to it over 20 times,yet I always discover something I skipped before. The final feeling is somewhat mixed: Difficult music,excellent musicians,nice atmosphere but with often a questionable result.3.5 stars is my final taste translated into numbers.

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Wow! this New York based american band had only one album recorded and disappeared not long after... but what an album! Stained Glass Stories is a fantastic symphonic prog CD that any 70´s prog lover will love to have! You´ll find here very strong songs, terrific musicanship, tasteful arrangements and powerful perfomances. Even the production is above average. A pity it was released in 1978... if it was out some 3 or 4 years before they would probably have gotten much more atention and maybe they´d have a longer career.

Their main influences are easily identified: Gentle Giant, Yes, early Genesis and King Crimson. The singers´s voice reminds me a lot of that of GG´s Derek Shulman (and so are much of the instrumental bits), while the bass playing is very Chris Squire-ish and the several mellotron drenched parts are a mix of King Crimson and Genesis styles. And yet they did have a personal touch on them all. Which indicates that their demise was a big loss for everyone, since this album promised so much. There are no fillers and their playing shows a highly skilled and confident group that really knew where they were aiming at.

A highly enjoyable CD that deserves to be jeard by any prog lover. A real musical gem lost in time that I´m grateful to have found. Rating: between 4 and 4.5 stars. Highly recommended.

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

5 stars Probably the best Symphonic album released in USA

Around 1978 Progressive Rock was suffering their first crisis and the iconic British bands were leaning more and more towards AOR and later POP, but in USA an obscure band named CATHEDRAL, dared to release one of the most elaborate Symphonic albums I ever heard.

"Stained Glass Stories" ´resents us a complex blending of YES and KING CRIMSON styles, as if somebody was blending "Relayer" with "Lark's Tongues in Aspic", in a style that sounds almost as ANGLAGARD would do 15 years later.

Even when Tom Doncourt does a great work with the keyboards and the rhythm section formed by the drummer Mercury Caronia IV and Fred Callan in the bass works as a perfectly oiled machine, the star of the band is Rudy Perrone, who manages to combine the radically different styles of Steve Howe and King Crimson, to create a unique and incredibly strong sound very hard to imitate.

But a review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the peculiar vocals by Paul Seal, who creates dissonances in the vein of Derek Schulman but much more controlled and respectful of the melody, simply an excellent band without a weak spot.

The album starts with "Introspect", a 12 minutes epic that after a short and melodic intro, changes radically into some sort of "wall of sound" where the constant and aggressive keyboards collision with the different moods that the guitar keeps adding, the multiple changes are absolutely radical and shocks the listener with some sort of "Relayer" meets "Lark's Tongues in Aspic " with vocals from "In a Glass House" pure Progressive Rock at it's best.

"Gong" is even more adventurous than the opener,. this time they jump from acoustic to electric guitar with incredible skills, and the Mellotron adds a bit of GENESIS atmosphere, but with a much more elaborate and complex structure.

"The Crossing" is the shorter and the closer CATHEDRAL gets to GENTLE GIANT, with an incredibly crafted vocal work that creates a "troubadouresque" atmosphere only broken by the lush keyboards and the aggressive guitars.

The last two tracks "Days & Changes" and "The Search" privilege the melody over the extreme complexity of the first three songs, but still the sound is absolutely unique and adventurous.

Surprisingly, this excellent band almost vanished in the thin air, and it's only after 29 years that we would see a second album in the stores, just when nobody expected it.

As rarely happens, I have no problem with the rating, because if a band releases a brilliant album, with a unique sound and not a single weak moment, I don't have any other alternative than go for the 5 stars.

I recommend "Stained Glass Stories" without hesitation.

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 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.75 | 111 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I didn't see this one coming. I would rank this album and YEZDA URFA's "Boris" as the two best American seventies prog albums I have ever heard after BABYLON and POLYPHONY's releases. There's no doubt both bands were greatly influenced by the giants of Prog from the UK. YEZDA URFA mostly by GENTLE GIANT and CATHEDRAL mostly by YES. You gotta love that fat Rickenbacker bass on this album along with the majestic mellotron that flows freely throughout. A very Howe sounding guitar here as well. I just wasn't expecting this album to be so good. Also I was surprisingly reminded of ANGLAGARD and WOBBLER at times. Of course this pre-dates those two bands.

"Introspect" opens in a pastoral way with mellotron. It kicks in before a minute. Nice chunky bass here. It settles with mellotron as reserved vocals join in.This really reminds me of YES. Drums take over after 3 1/2 minutes then bass and guitar join in. Great sound ! The bass is huge here. Organ 6 minutes in then it settles with reserved vocals again. Amazing instrumental section starting around 8 1/2 minutes.The bass is earth-shaking. Mellotron comes and goes. Another killer section 10 minutes in. "Gong" is the only instrumental on here. Outbursts of sound come and go until it stays. It settles after 2 minutes. Mellotron follows. It kicks back in before 3 minutes. Organ and bass lead a minute later then it's the guitar and mellotron's turn. Nice.

"The Crossing" opens with vocal melodies then vocals, bass and that Howe-like guitar take over. Mellotron 2 1/2 minutes in as the bass digs deep and the guitar plays over top. Vocals are back and i'm thinking WOBBLER here. A river of mellotron follows. "Days & Changes" opens with vocals only before it kicks in after a minute. Fat bass and Howe-like guitar with mellotron leads the way. It turns kind of spacey until it kicks back in before 4 minutes. A mellotron feast 5 1/2 minutes in. The mood then brightens followed by more mellotron. "The Search" sounds so majestic to open. Vocals before 2 minutes as it settles. Mellotron too. The tempo picks up but it continues to shift. Lots of mellotron on this one.

A must have for Symphonic Prog fans out there.This won't disappoint.

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 The Bridge by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.42 | 30 ratings

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The Bridge
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars I almost wrote a two star review of this album half a year ago. I thought better off it and I hoped I was going to find something of any value if I gave it another six months. I was wrong.

This band does not need any introduction. Their Stained Glass album thirty years ago is rightly regarded as a classic. I love that album. Where that album was very confined and strict; The Bridge branches out everywhere. The result is no good songs and a bland sound. The vocals from Stained Glass is thankfully still there. The songs are anonyme and does not register. The lack of good songs are simply the biggest problem here. The lack of charm and identity does not make this album any better. I love this band and I therefore hate this album. It simply falls flat on it's face. The frequent aimless accoustic guitar based songs does not make this album any better. There are some OK pieces here. But there is not enough of them. I wish the band had stucked to their guns and not released this bland, bland album. This is the letdown of the year.

2 stars

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 The Bridge by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.42 | 30 ratings

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The Bridge
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by 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.

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