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on 22 September 2005
Cathedral's third album is in my mind the bands finest and one of the best doom albums around. `Carnival Bizarre' has pretty much everything you could want from a metal album; songs about witch finding, horror film samples, Huggy Bear and oh crikey even Tony Iommi!

What hits me first about this album is that Cathedral finally got the production job they deserved very thick and bassy without overproduction. `Forest of Equilibrium' and `The Ethereal Mirror' were great records but they did suffer from a bit of a `cheapo metal distortion pedal' guitar sound in places and a weird separation between instruments, actually this was only a problem on `The Ethereal Mirror' as `Forest of Equilibrium' suited a dodgy production.

Still, good production means absolutely sod all without songs and thankfully this album has a fair few corkers. `Vampire Sun' is on of Cathedral's more upbeat numbers and has some devilishly simple riffs and even some Tom G Warrior worshipping hey's...its pretty groovy overall but I'm not one to scorn something for being catchy, it's a great song hinting at a more upbeat direction for the band (still I must stress this isn't `Pyromania'... its not that upbeat). `Hopkins (the Witchfinder General)' is a tribute to three things;
The historical figure of Matthew Hopkins
The character in the film `Witchfinder General' played expertly by Vincent Price.
The NWOBHM band Witchfinder General, I find this funny as this song is actually better than anything WFG recorded (wanna foight about that ya testicle!).
The song itself is a masterpiece, NWOBHM inspired riffs, sing along lyrics with great tempo changes, some duelling solos and sound bites from the films `Mark of the Devil' and of course `Witchfinder General'. It's not Cathedral's `hit' without reason, it's one of their best songs. `Utopian Blaster' again is a great song with a more epic feel in the lyrics. This is the third more up tempo song in a row... sell outs! We do get a kind of servants meet master vibe or sorcerers apprentice meets *ahem* totally sly Sabbath reference here...The Wizard, with Tony Iommi on lead guitar. Needless to say Tony does a great job and it's the best thing he did in 1995 as Sabbath's own `Forbidden' was a poo sandwich.
Closer `Electric Grave' is a epic with some lovely twists and turns, killer riffs throughout...no one captures that Sabbath vibe like Cathedral and here's another shining example, although some bands do get closer in sonic terms through using vintage amps and such Cathedral have more of their own interpretation which is more interesting to me. The `Snowblind, we burn we meditate...' section is quite beautiful for the band and hinted at future proggy twists and turns to come on say `The Garden of Unearthly Delights'.

Despite all this upbeat Huggy bear tomfoolery there is still a fair amount of traditional doom to be found here. `Night of the Seagulls' shows one of the bands obsessions; The Blind Dead films which they keep on referring to in songs (and the films themselves are excellent, if you like the idea of undead Templar Knights sacrificing virgins get out your old Betamax and check them out) . Musically, the song is a trip back to Sabbath's `Electric Funeral' and its good enough but hardly spectacular.
` Inertia's cave' again is doomy plodding number most notable for going into the riff from Zeppelin's `Moby Dick'. `Blue Light' again is something of a departure and relies mostly on clean guitars and groovy bass lines, its interesting but lightweight in comparison to good old fashioned riff-driven devilry such as `Hopkins...' .

I'm a tad perplexed as to whether Cathedral where going against the grain in the mid 90's. On the one hand occult obsessed Sabbath worship was at odds with the countless faceless extreme metal bands blasting their morbid way into mediocrity but Cathedral was perhaps in keeping with say Soundgarden or Alice in Chains and their Sabbath worship. Then I suddenly realise I don't honestly don't care as `Carnival Bizarre' is undoubtedly cool regardless or whether it was in vogue or not and its quality speaks for itself.
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on 4 November 2004
This LP proves rock is still a living entity. This LP motors and rocks and reminds me of when I first lobbed Master of Reality on the turntable and Black Sabbath became the Godfathers of all heavy genre.
This disc is very much a look back to the earlier Sabbath style, including drums set up like Bill Wards' on the first three Sabbath Lp's, riffs like Iommi and exhortations like Ozzy.
It also features a Tony Iommi guested track that plunders a dozen Sabbath ditties and someone sounds like Ozzy for part of it
It is much fresher than a lot of nineties rock, less manufactured and more as if it was recorded in a few takes.
Definitely worth an investment.
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on 25 October 2008
No collection of British heavy metal is complete without this album,it's as essential as 'Master of Reality' or 'Sin After Sin'.

Whilst Cathedral have recorded albums of this quality throughout their career, this is the one for which they will be forever remembered for as it contains what many people would call their 'greatest hit', 'Hopkins. Witchfinder General'(It also features my fave Cathedral track of all time 'Vampire Sun')

The band are on fire, and their intensity is matched by a cracking production that thunders out of the speakers.

Often pigeon holed as a doom band, this is an unfair and wide of the mark assessment of a band who incorporate metal, psych and prog into their sound, elements of all these styles being present here,whilst retaining an undeniable earth shaking metallic crunch.

This re-issue contains their 'Our God Has Landed' DVD as a bonus, and features some cracking promo vids, as well as a decent live gig making this set an absolute bargain.Go buy it!
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VINE VOICEon 28 October 2005
There's been another major line-up change by the time of Cathedral's 3rd album The Carnival Bizarre, with only vocalist Lee Dorian and guitarist Gaz Jennings remaining from the previous album. Despite that fact, this album is very much 'business as usual', as the band continue along the same musical path as on The Ethereal Mirror, so almost all of the album is comprised of up-tempo retro groovy disco doom, with only Night of the Seagulls (co-written by legendary ex-Repulsion bassist Scott Carlson) harking back to the slow dirge sound of their debut album. The Carnival Bizarre is a good solid Cathedral album, and there really isn't a single dud track to be found anywhere here, but it does suffer a little from going over the same musical territory as The Ethereal Mirror, with only the odd bass-heavy funk of Blue Light hinting at any new ideas. Cathedral might be musically treading water with this release, but there are still enough great metal tunes here to make this an essential purchase for fans of the band. Oh - and it's also got the best fold-out Dave Patchett cover art ever!
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on 28 June 2006
I have had this album around 10 years now and have to say I never get tired of playing it (just like Sabbath). The track Hopkins is an absolute classic, one of the best English records ever made (after Sabbath). I love Electric Grave and the title track, really Sabbath sounding. If you love Sabbath then you will also love this record. A must for heavy riff listeners.
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on 30 July 2014
I was 15 when I first listen to Cathedral and this was the first album that a friend of mine had introduced to me. Ever since I don't think that any other of their albums managed to reach the dynsmics of this album. One of the bedt albums of doom metal
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on 15 January 2016
Great music
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on 9 May 2000
'The Carnival Bizarre' came out at a time when the terms 'heavy' and 'metal' were less popular than Metallica's haircuts and the music is as uncompromising as the attitude. Its down-tuned, riff-laden and in the case of the title track, at times, genius. But here and there the riffs start to sound familiar and in places drag on a bit. Instead, try listening to 'The Ethereal Mirror' which does the same job but overall is a more satisfying experience.
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