Cathedral

Supernatural Birth Machine

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Having ridden out the initial explosion of grindcore to the point where stoner rock became its own revived genre, due credit for longevity has to go to Dorrian and his compatriots, not least because Dorrian helped out said genre with his Rise Above label and such signings as Sleep. As for his own band, on Supernatural, Dorrian leads everyone through more semi-tributes to the Black Sabbath sound; Dorrian's own ghost-of-Ozzy vocals often get as close to outright mimicry as possible, though generally he avoids straining for the high notes when possible. Drummer Dixon and bassist Smee do their business with relatively little fuss; if nothing else, having better production standards than the original Sabbath did allows their work to always bust forth pretty well. Jennings, meanwhile, is as monstrous and crunching as always, while wise enough to let in lighter moments from time to time, as with the mid-song break on "Stained Glass Horizon." If the subject matter and delivery is a little more self-conscious than, say, that of the Melvins, Cathedral at least has the courage of its convictions, right down to the neo-prog inner sleeve art (dragon heads, historical figures, demons, and angels in a Bosch-style landscape, and so forth). Highlights: Well, if one likes Sabbath, liking the whole album (or alternately dismissing it out of hand for the real thing) will pretty much be the end result. Though a few stand out even more, such as "Cyclops Revolution," with appropriately distorted monster-doom vocals at points, and the appropriately spooked-out vibes of "Nightmare Castle." One thing's for sure: if one wants classically pulpy SF/horror/fantasy scenarios for lyrics combined with brain-melting sludge, this is the place. Thus, song titles like "Urko's Conquest," "Birth Machine 2000," and the "can it be any more appropriate" metacrunch of "Suicide Asteroid."

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