The Serpent’s Gold (Earache)
by Martin Popoff
Opening with the groovy, crushing crunch of “Ride,” The Serpent’s Gold quickly cracks a beer and hands it to you, saying Lee Dorrian is back. Seriously, nobody played and recorded and stomped their way through doom quite like Cathedral. All of this is apparent on the magnificent lava flow of hit and highlight tracks on disc one of this gorgeous package. Come disc two, what you get is a collection of a dozen rarities, from demos to live stuff, and flat-out unreleased gems (high point: “The Olde Oak Tree,” written for The Ethereal Mirror). In fact, only one nugget has seen release ever, and that only as a compilation track.
What you hear is the creative process, the eccentric wingnut thoughts of Lee and his fragile band, as well as the trouble these guys get up to live. As major bonus, each of these songs is explained/described in detail by guitarist Gaz (Gary Jennings), with a massive band history and a trove of photos filling the front two-thirds of this huge book. Oh yeah, near the back, you’ll find another highlight: A cover of Witchfinder General non-LP track “Rabies,” yet another example of Dorrian’s strangely out-of-tune singing style, just another cool dimension to this fathomless, formless doom institution.