The Guessing Game

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Cathedral's ninth studio album, their first since 2005's The Garden of Unearthly Delights, is a double disc, and it features some of the most psychedelic, progressive material in the band's entire catalog. Originally formed out of vocalist Lee Dorrian's distaste for the burgeoning death metal sound of his previous band, grindcore pioneers/stalwarts Napalm Death, Cathedral sounded like a pure throwback to the doom of the early '70s on their first few releases, but over the course of their long career, their albums have displayed rock & roll swagger and lysergic experimentation. The Guessing Game is in many ways a magnum opus, offering examples of everything Cathedral does well. "Casket Chasers" is a roaring stoner metal anthem worthy of modern doomsters like Down or any of Scott "Wino" Weinrich's bands, while the eight-minute "Funeral of Dreams" is a multifaceted, retro-psychedelic excursion reminiscent of Uriah Heep. "Requiem for the Voiceless" is pure, creeping Sabbathian horror, while "Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine" shifts from acoustic strumming to a jazz-funk groove. Retro instrumentation (flutes and Mellotron in particular) and production techniques abound. This album lives up to its title in spades; it's impossible to predict, listening to one song, what the next one will sound like, except for the general surety that it'll sound like it could have been recorded (on tape, not into a hard drive) anytime between 1969 and today.

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