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Upon its release, Cathedral's Endtyme was heavily touted as a "back to basics" album for the British doom originators -- but this isn't exactly true. After taking its neo-hippie metal as far as it could, Lee Dorrian's combo certainly seems bent on revisiting the slothful, post-Sabbath dirge that characterized its earliest releases. But unlike its record company, the group doesn't seem nearly as convinced about taking such a large step backwards. Instead, while Endtyme certainly boasts an inordinate amount of plodding down-tuned anthems, even the slowest grinds contained here ("Requiem for the Sun," "Ultra Earth") manage to retain some of the energy and diversity displayed (even if in haphazard fashion) on the group's late-'90s albums. More disappointing is the fact that, once again, Cathedral falls well short of delivering a truly consistent album -- something the band only came close to achieving with mid-era releases like The Ethereal Mirror and The Carnival Bizarre. In fact, Endtyme only boasts two or three truly excellent tracks, including the gloomy "Melancholy Emperor" and the sullen "Alchemist of Sorrows." Sabbath-isms abound throughout the album, and work both to its advantage (the "Orchid"-like guitar intro to "Sea Serpent," for instance) and disadvantage (the unoriginal "Planet Caravan" takeoff "Astral Queen"). Downright weird experiments like the silly "Whores to Oblivion," on the other hand, could hardly be classified as true doom metal. Yet, despite its air of forced excess (driven home by 13-minute monster closer "Templars Arise [The Return]"), most fans are bound to agree that Endtyme offers a more focused and satisfying experience than Cathedral's recent efforts -- but a doom classic it is not.

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