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3.92 | 39 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1991

Filed under Doom Metal


1. Picture of Beauty & Innocence (intro) / Comiserating the Celebration (11:17)
2. Ebony Tears (7:47)
3. Serpent Eve (7:41)
4. Soul Sacrifice (2:54)
5. A Funeral Request (9:18)
6. Equilibrium (6:08)
7. Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain (9:09)

Total Time: 54:14


- Lee Dorrian / vocals, effects
- Garry Jennings / guitars
- Adam Lehan / guitars
- Mark Griffiths / bass
- Mike Smail / drums

- Reverend Wolski / keyboards
- Helen Acreman / flutes

About this release

Full-length, Earache Records, December 6th, 1991

Recorded at Workshop Studios, Redditch, between July and August in 1991.

Produced and mixed by PBL, assisted by Lee Dorian and Gary Jennings .

Engineered by Mark Tempest
Tape Op: The Wizard
Sleeve artist: Dave Patchett
Photos: Jason Tilley
Layout: J. Barry

European release: February 25th, 1992

Thanks to Time Signature, UMUR for the updates


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Although I'm generally pretty keen on doom metal, and will always honour Lee Dorrian for his role as Rise Above head honcho in bringing groups like Blood Ceremony, Electric Wizard, and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to wider attention, Cathedral have always somehow failed to catch me - especially their more stoner-oriented middle period. (Once you start yelling "Huggy Bear oh yeah!" in the middle of a song you know you have lurched into total self-parody.)

This debut album of theirs, though... I think it has finally grown on me. Forest of Equilibrium has a rather unique doom sound because the participants are coming at it from decidedly non-doom backgrounds. You have Lee's own past in Napalm Death, Adam's Acid Reign roots, Mark Griffiths' Carcass roadie years - in short, a heap of experience in the faster, grittier, more extreme flavours of metal out there.

The end result is a doom album where, though I find Lee's vocal contributions to be a bit hit or miss, the overall aesthetic he leads the band to accomplish is an interesting departure for doom metal, giving it some of the gruesome, sick edge that extreme metal subgenres of the era enjoyed. The end result is a doom album which stands in stark contrast to some of the more "clean" and pristine takes on the genre, and as such deserves its place in doom history. Manage your expectations carefully and listen with an open mind.
Vim Fuego
When Lee Dorian announced the formation of Cathedral, no one quite knew what the hell to expect. Dorian had been part of the first legendary line up of Napalm Death, so a Doom Metal band seemed like the polar opposite. Add to that a guitarist from one of the UK’s leading Thrash bands of the time, and it seemed like a very odd proposition. Would this be the first ever high-speed Doom band? The first few notes of ‘Comiserating the Celebration’ showed what was in store. Cathedral was slow, heavy and well, Doom-laden. The rhythm guitar came straight from the Tony Iommi school of riffs. Discordant guitar lines played counter to the rhythm, seemingly out of tune, but fitting perfectly. Dorian’s psychotic screech was gone, replaced by a deep, soulful moan. Like a mammoth struggling for its life in a prehistoric tar pit, the whole effect is one of sinking, a hopeless inescapable fate. And basically, that was the tone for the entire album. The band explores the plummeting depths of despair repeatedly. There is not an element of cheer anywhere on the album. ‘Soul Sacrifice’ picks up the pace a little, and apart from a final flourish, hardly raises the tempo beyond a slow march. ‘Equilibrium’ also rumbles like a rolling shockwave of an earthquake across a continent. Lee Dorian’s vocals were something of a revelation. Until the release of this album, Doom vocalists basically emulated Ozzy Osbourne’s high-pitched tenor. Some like Trouble’s Eric Wagner favoured the tripped out, stoned Ozzy, while others like Candlemass’ Messiah Marcolin went with full operatic pomposity. Paradise Lost’s ‘Lost Paradise’ predates ‘Forest Of Equilibrium’, with Nick Holmes employing a similar vocal technique, but there was a large Death Metal component to Paradise Lost’s sound. Cathedral was pure Doom. Dorian sounds like he’s on the ultimate downer trip, all life and energy sapped from his body, his voice the croak of a man who has seen his own demise and has accepted it resignedly. The lyrics are tales of mysticism and natural majick, but Dorian would inspire dread no matter what the subject matter. Guitarist Adam Lehan was also treading new ground. He’d formerly been a member of UKAC (United Kingdom Apple Core, a hardcore label piss-take) nutters Acid Reign. It might have been tempting to play old Acid Reign riffs at half pace, but there is nothing here which even hints at Thrash. The odd ropey riff is excusable in Thrash, because playing at high speed mean it’s gone again fairly quickly. However, playing at the leaden pace of Cathedral Lehan and fellow guitarist Gary Jennings had to deliberately place every note, or it would hang there rotting like a corpse in a gibbet. ‘Forest Of Equilibrium’ helped relaunch Doom Metal into the general Metal conscious. It attracted notice because of the band members’ previous gigs, but kept the interest because of its own musical merit. It was also Cathedral’s only pure Doom release. From ‘The Ethereal Mirror’ and beyond, a large Stoner Rock component was added to the sound. ‘Forest Of Equilibrium’ stands alone as a dread monolith in Cathedral’s career.
"Forest of Equilibrium" is the debut full-length studio album by UK doom metal act Cathedral. The album was released through Earache Records in December 1991. Cathedral was formed in 1989 by lead vocalist Lee Dorrian and guitarist Gary Jennings. They went through a couple of lineup changes and released two demos before being signed by Earache Records. The band made quite an impact on the doom/death metal scene with the release of "Forest of Equilibrium". Expectations were high as the members came from acts such as Napalm Death, Dream Death, and Acid Reign, but Cathedral ultimately proved to be a very different sounding beast compared to the bands the members were previously involved with.

The music on "Forest of Equilibrium" is slow and crushingly heavy doom metal. The inspiration from 70s/80s doom metal acts like Black Sabbath, Pentragram, Candlemass, and Trouble is obvious but on this debut album the band combine the old school doom metal influence with an extreme metal touch. This is not "regular" doom/death by any means, but Lee Dorrian´s deranged, deep, and raw vocal delivery is occasionally close to semi-growling and provides the music with an extreme metal vibe. He puts a demented twist to his deliverey, which makes him sound like one just out of the lunatic asylum. While the pace on the album is predominantly slow, there are some mid-paced and groove laden stoner doom sections featured on the album too. "Soul Sacrifice" is the best example of the more groove laden style, but there are sections here and there featured in other generally slower tracks, which features that vibe too.

The album opens with flute playing (courtesy of guest flutist Helen Acreman) which immediately reminds me of 70s acid folk. Acts like Spirogyra and Comus come to mind. There´s an innocent yet ominous atmosphere to the flute playing, that´s similar to the atmosphere that those mentioned acts were able to create (not necessarily with flute playing though). The flute is also used effectively in the slow and doomy closing track "Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain". I think the folky touch is incorporated most effectively on the album. The instrumentation is also occasionally enhanced by organ. In addition to the ultra heavy rhythm section and the psychadelic tinged semi-growling vocals, the music is very much driven by the twin guitar attack of guitarists Adam Lehan and Gary Jennings. The guitars are distorted and the riffs heavy and doomy but the two guitarists play a lot of harmonies and great melodic and quite hard rocking solos on the album. The occassional use of acoustic guitar is another great feature on the album.

The 7 tracks on the 54:07 minutes long album are all well written and after a few spins they should stand out to most listeners. I´m not gonna point to highlights on "Forest of Equilibrium" as I feel all tracks are essential to the listening experience. It´s one of those albums that are able to take you on a journey and make you forget about real life for a while. A dark, sorrowfilled and deranged trip to a strange fantasy land. All packed in a powerful, dark, and organic sounding production which suits the music perfectly.

I used to enjoy "Forest of Equilibrium" when it came out, but it´s only with time that I´ve been able to really appreciate and understand what a unique album it actually is. The band themselves would move on to a more groove oriented stoner doom sound only a couple of albums down the line, so "Forest of Equilibrium" also stands as quite a unique album in the band´s own discography. While Cathedral can´t deny, and don´t try to hide the influence from the above mentioned acts, I still think their approach to playing slow and doomy metal was something new in 1991 and I ultimately find "Forest of Equilibrium" both innovative and greatly enjoyable. A 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
This Cathedral's first album...and the metal community were stunned by what they heard.

Lee Dorrian, former Napalm Death gabbler, in a doom band. What is doom anyway?

At this point doom hadn't really been given a name, and yes Sabbath started it, and bands like Saint Vitus, Tiamat and other gothic metal bands had a similar sound, but the early 90's, when bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema & Paradise Lost started coming out of the did Cathedral, with music which was focused on how fast you played...slowed down and drop tuned to earth shattering results. Only Britian could create such darkness.

This being their debut, its very impressive. This wouldn't be my favourite Cathedral album, but hearing this album for a first time, I have to say, this album is great, and who knows maybe it will grow on me.

I think this was the most atmospheric moments of Cathedrals career and catalogue, with their later efforts being stronger and more contemporary...but you have to admit...this album really does paint a vivid picture in your head...and the amazing artwork is always their staring at you in the face.

1. Picture Of Beauty & Innocence/Commiserating The Celebration - Nice intro. very dark and disturbing. Has alot of nice twists and turns throughout it. The music really is snake like. 9/10

2. Ebony Tears - That opening riff really is as evil as hell. This song is like an elephant walking through a forest. Very doomy and disturbing, yet fascinating. Great riffs. 10/10

3. Serpent Eve - Kind of like a very evil hymn. The music surrounds you like an evil fog throughout. 10/10

4. Soul Sacrifice - More upbeat showing a progression and what their next album will be like. Quite Iron Maiden esque near the end. 10/10

5. A Funeral Request - Very disturbing. Like an eternal endless murky void. I love how the song changes throughout. 9/10

6. Equilibrium - Not as diverse as the others, but still has a great hook in it. 9/10

7. Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain - Great intro with some atmospheric flute. Very early My Dying Bride, with a zombie on vocals. Their really is something beautiful about music that drones and builds up throughout. 10/10

CONCLUSION: Not their best, and some consider it to be a landmark. I say its a must have in any metal fans collection.
Time Signature
Beauty and innocence...

Genre: doom metal

Do you like it deep, deep and hard? Hold on, I'm talking about music here. The title of Type O Negative's debut album actually describes "Forest of Equilibrium" very well. The early 90s were interesting in relation to doom metal, as the genre was revised, and in many ways rejuvenated, by a group of British bands. The most well known of these are probably My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Anathema, all of whom infused a good dose of death metal into the genre. However, Cathedral's influence on the genre should not be, although it often is, underestimated.

The music on "Forest of Equilibrium" is slow and heavy, but still it is melodic, albeit it a more melancholic fashion. Despite Lee Dorrian's history with grindcore and death metal legends Napalm Death, "Forest of Equilibrium" is not, unlike the first couple of releases by the above-mentioned 'Big Three', really death metal inspired at all. Rather than fusing death metal into the doom metal genre, Cathedral basically draw on the epic style of European doom metal and the stoner style of American doom metal (both of which may be attributed to Black Sabbath) and recombine them into an extremely slow and perhaps technically more simplified type of doom metal (the only really uptempo track is "Soul Sacrifice"). Also, Lee Dorrian's vocals, while harsh, are not really growled but rather moaned.

According to the band members themselves, the slow tempo is really due them not being proficient enough to emulate the style of Trouble, Candlemass, St. Vitus and the like - but as those of us who've been in a doom metal band know, it is actually very difficult to play at such a slow pace as Cathedral do on this album. In any case, the slow and heavy style on this album works very well, and the application of melodic harmony guitars at such a slow pace really makes for a unique sense of sadness and desperation (just check out tracks like "Ebony Tears", "a Funeral Request", and the psychedelic "Reaching Happiness Touching Pain".

This is an epitome of extreme doom metal, and, what I really like about it is that, despite the slow tempos, it never loses its sense of texture (which I think a lot of contemporary extemely slow so-called funeral doom metal bands tend to do), and I would recommend it to all fans of doom metal. This album, along with its successor, deserves the same sort of celebration as Paradise Lost's "Gothic" and "Shades of God", My Dying Bride's "As the Flower Withers" and "Turn Loose the Swans", and Anathema's "Serenades".

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