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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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Forest of EquilibriumForest of Equilibrium
Earache Records 1999
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CATHEDRAL discography


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

3.78 | 173 ratings
Stained Glass Stories
1978
3.36 | 49 ratings
The Bridge
2007

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CATHEDRAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is one of those "great lost albums" that get hyped a lot because of their scarcity, but whilst I don't think it's an outright classic (in particular, Paul Seal's faux-British vocals are just plain bad) it's a really enjoyable example of the wave of mid-to-late 1970s prog that emerged showing the influence of the British pioneers of the genre. Think a combination of the bombast of Yes, King Crimson, or ELP with the jazzy whimsy of Caravan (come to think of it, the cover art feels like a more colour-varied take on that from In the Land of Grey and Pink) and you might get something close to the sound the group attain here. Tom Doncourt, in particular, adds a little Hatfield and the North touch to his keyboard playing that I rather like.
 The Bridge by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.36 | 49 ratings

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The Bridge
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Review nº 231

Cathedral - The Bridge

They're back after some 30 years. Although, they didn't hit me with the same power. It's the same, exactly the same band. There are some moments when the members could show themselves and their mental waves of creational feeling and they're awesome, you recognize them. But the suites and tracks in itself aren't catchy as a whole. There's something lacking. It doesn't seems to me as a forced re-encounter. The songs are well worked. It is a nice album. But doesn't worth your cash, in my honest point of view. It almost went down to a total neo-prog path. Better stay with your old Stained Glass Stories copy.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Review nº 230

Cathedral - Stained Glass Stories

I will have to agree with Ivan Melgar M review, this is probably the best 70s symphonic album from USA. But I would call it Eclectic Prog. No, this is not the doom/death metal Cathedral. And you must admit they're far better. Oh, how overlooked it is.

Do you feel bored? Did you heard all of the top prog archives album list and think you can't find anything really "new" interesting from the prog golden age? Then it's time for Stained Glass Stories! The stunning multi-layered capacity of this recording makes my nose bleed as an afraid puppy pissing. Every track here is lenghty, electric but trippy, full of creative unique, authentic songwriting. There were the Yes vibe, and Gentle Giant vibe, and Genesis, and King Crimson. They were different to each other. Cathedral has another different atmosphere. And this album is... flawless. The bass riffs plus the guitar licks are what I love the most. Even symphonic, they're not afraid of dissonance and breaking rules. I believe Stained Glass Stories could please every kind of prog fan, and it reaches that kind of PA top album from the 70s, but unfortunatelly they're another lost gem in the holy archives.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It is 1978 and the influence of Yes has reached every corner of the U.S. Five musicians longing to compose music like their famous British mentors enter a dark and cramped experimental laboratory where they volunteer to be the guinea pigs for a Matrix-like type of brain programming. One by one, each has a rod inserted into his cerebral cortex as they receive all the skill and knowledge they need to be able to compose an album just like "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "The Gates of Delirium". Their vocalist, Paul Seal is a bit out of place. His voice sounds like Peter Gabriel trying to sing like Jon Anderson and in the end sounds like neither. Somehow, Cathedral will have to write their first album without a real Jon Anderson sound-alike.

All the musicians are talented enough to write their own original songs and music but not without first making sure that the bass sounds like Chris Squire's, the guitar sounds like Steve Howe's, and the keyboards and drums can at least pull off a reasonable facsimile of Rick Wakeman and Alan White. Just to be sure that they add their own unique touch to this reworking of Yes, keyboardist Tom Doncourt adds some horrible chorus synthesizer, which Wakeman would wisely have never done on a Yes album.

Friends, have you ever listened with spasms of joy to "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "The Gates of Delirium" from "Relayer" and wished that Yes had recorded just one more album in that vein? And friends, knowing that they hadn't, did you ever secretly wish, feeling guilty and maybe even a little blasphemous, that another band with skill nearly matching that of Yes hadn't just come along and recorded just such an album since Yes hadn't done so? Well, friends, if you haven't heard, Cathedral did just that. In fact, they followed the Yes mould so closely that as you listen to "Stained Glass Stories" you can almost name which Yes songs certain parts were, um, influenced by. Why, just listen from the 6:10 mark of "Days and Changes" for just one of numerous examples. Sounds like Yes, no?

So, do I dislike the album? No, not really. As a Yes tribute band going off and trying their hand at composing Yes music, I think they did a great job for the most part. The vocals leave a fair bit to be desired but as they don't figure in too prominently overall it is forgivable, except for the vocal intro to "Days & Changes", which reminds me a bit of a hobbit singing to a king. "Gong" is likely my favourite track. But, yeah, there's little else to say other than "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and "The Gates of Delirium" fans rejoice as much as you will allow yourself to, knowing that if not Yes, then at least a group who really worked hard to sound like them have given us this album. I'd give them four and a half stars for the music but I think they needed to work on originality and their own sound much more. So, only three stars for being copycats. Perhaps if they'd released a second album they'd have come into their own more. Too bad they never got there.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

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

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 ratings

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Stained Glass Stories
Cathedral Symphonic Prog

Review by pedestrian

4 stars Oh, what an overlooked gem this album is! Almost every moment from start to finish is smoking with intense counterpoint arrangements, intricate orchestrations and excellent musicianship. The chief reference point must be Fragile-era Yes, but one is also frequently reminded of both Crimson and Genesis. The singer would do reasonably well in a John Wetton soundalike contest, and one passage sports a snare-bass-mellotron figure that is extremely evocative of "Watcher of the Skies". Add some Fripp-ish tritones, and the result can sometimes be quite reminiscent of Änglagård (who in fact cite Cathedral as a reference)

It was a surprise to discover that these lads are American, for it would seem that they consider themselves born the wrong side of the Atlantic. In every aspect Cathedral try to sound British, even the singer Paul Seal, who makes a fair attempt at a British accent. That his diction ends up being rather blurred is no major problem -- like Yes, Cathedral seem to use lyrics mainly to provide some sonic structure to the vocals while one may look in vain for any definitive meaning amongst the words.

Indeed the one star detracted is mainly because Cathedral come dangerously close to pastiche at times. Guitariste superbe Rudy Perrone has studied Steve Howe's technique and sound in smallest detail, and also the bass work is at times all but a copy of Chris Squire's style. "Days & Changes" could have been a "Heart of the Sunrise pt 2". Knowing this was recorded in 1978, several years after the heyday of their British heroes, Cathedral must have come across as imitators at the time, although they make a fiendishly clever job of it. I for one refuse to let this bother me, and enjoy this album for the masterpiece that it is!

 The Bridge by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.36 | 49 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.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 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.

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 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

 Stained Glass Stories by CATHEDRAL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.78 | 173 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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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