In the early 90s, as death metal waned into faster BPM "brutality" and grindcore disintegrated into politically-correct emopop, scene innovators were looking for the next frontier of the extreme and many, as former Napalm Death frontman Lee Dorrian did, sought out the boundaries of slowness and ponderous doomlike music to make their statements of social futurism.
flag of the United Kingdom Cathedral - Forest of Equilibrium (1991)
Forest of Equilibrium
Production: Shadowed in a thick darkness to preserve low end sound this production invokes the power of analogue in its roomy, tumescent sound.

Review: Omnivorous droning levels tone centers to a series of dopplerized waypoints in this winding tour of the dark mental passages of human despair, a release whose thematic precept could be described as rejection of all which might provide context in the world in favor of the nihilism, emptiness and clarity of aloneness.

Where most metal releases shift between tone centers in an attempt to emphasize a cyclic tendency the music of Cathedral drones toward the same tone centers in an attempt to make precious the variations that do occur at almost tangential harmonies, creating a slick underlying melody to the surface reflected from many iterations of similar drone riffing. Slumberlike and adhesive, the rhythm of essential form within each song rumbles against the constraints of its tempo.

A castironthroat moans a hoarse desperation subdued into acceptance and a doubtful apathy over analogous power chord structures cascaded on tonal centers designed to emphasize the certainty of dissonance in their offhand but necessary relationship to the simple baroque riffing churning a slow burn through each piece. This approach takes the darkest approach of Sabbath and lets it shine on the face of fear: these songs project a central concept but allow it to gesture toward potential muffled by the existence presented, unravelling iterations of the conflicting ideas before resolving the two in a meta-statement which encompasses the theme of the song and its derivation toward the elements within.


1. Picture of Beauty & Innocence (Intro)
Comiserating the Celebration
2. Ebony Tears
3. Serpent Eve
4. Soul Sacrifice
5. A Funeral Request
6. Equilibrium
7. Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain
Length: 54:05

Cathedral - Forest of Equilibrium - Doom Metal 1991 Earache
Copyright © 1991 Earache

No element of this music needs to shine in its own right since the minimalistic influence is so pervasive that all structures are support for central understated ideas, but it is worth noting that the lead guitar winds a dark old school heavy metal progressive blues in the style of a slower Motorhead, articulating a story within and harmonizing in a sardonic treatment of stadium rock dramaticism. Nihilism breathes in the heavy rhythmic and harmonic tendencies of this music toward a slowness, repetition and yet glacial variation beginning in detail.

Like a postmodern stupor, this release hails the past while indulging the conveniences of the now, with stoned cold slow and heavy passages cementing chorus to verse and some of the many song shape changes which occur courtesy of progressive 1970s rock influences. Its mideval aesthetic hides the oldest form of metal ever, but with the technique and minimalism of grindcore. In the heaving passages of this despairing testament a careful listener can find much of the theory behind black metal to come, and an understanding of the nihilism past and future that connects the terror of metal with its hope.

BLACK   |   DEATH   |   HEAVY   |   SPEED   |   THRASH   |   GRINDCORE