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I spoke in depth to Laurent and Stéphane le Saux, long-standing Doom supporters and co-organisers of the recent 'Doom Or Be Doomed: A French Tribute to Cathedral' album about their part in the release, and more besides.

Interview with Laurent Lignon (Journalist).
"If you haven't been paying much attention to the French Doom scene of late, you may have missed the recent release of 'Doom Or Be Doomed : a French tribute to CATHEDRAL', featuring a spread of well-established names within the underground, including the likes of Ataraxie, Monolithe and Northwinds, plus newer acts like Barabbas and Father Merrin. You'll find a review of the album itself here, but we were also intrigued by the project itself, notionally headed up by Laurent Lignon (whose name you will find liberally mentioned around the site and on our Facebook page) and Stéphane le Saux (whose name has been equally liberally attached to a number of 'zines and blogs over the years). I spoke in some depth to both gentlemen about how it all developed, and as a special bonus, Laurent got the bands involved to offer us an exclusive insight into their reason for participation and choice of track to cover. Read on, and discover why it's a good idea to keep an ear out for what's rumbling low'n'slow out of France..."

Hello Laurent, thanks for talking to us today - can we start with just a brief introduction?

LL: Hello there, Mike. Sure, we can. So, I'm a Frenchman in my mid-40's, originally from the South-western part of the country but currently living in gay Paris and enjoying Music as a whole, but mostly when it's Heavy and slow. I've been, and am still, implicated in various levels of the musical fandom, from running official message boards (like when I used to be a mod, then an admin, on the official Dimmu Borgir board around 2002/2004) to reviewing records and doing interviews in various magazines, webzines and fanzines. I'm also known for my rather...let's say "unusual" tastes when it comes to some Metal stuff. Like russian-speaking Gothic Doom, Eastern European Gothic Metal or French Prog/Power Metal... You know, the kind of musical tastes that you hide from your friends because you're afraid they might think you're insane. Or worse. Well, I actually revel in that :)

Doom-metal.com regulars should be well aware of your name already - you've been associated with the site for a long time as reviewer and contributor. Would you like to give us a brief history of your involvement over the years?

LL: Hahah yeah, I've been involved with the site on what I call "an on-off relationship". I actually discovered the site around 2005 while looking for infos on a band which had sent me a demo for reviewing purposes but without any info. Back then, there wasn't any database specifically dedicated to Doom Metal, save perhaps Metal Archives in some ways. So I was delighted to find Doom-Metal.com, and actually I found the bit of info I needed to write my review. I was deep into Forums back then, so I registered and started first by using mostly the Trade section, then post elsewhere. I was there during the Great Squirrels Invasion era (I still own the demo of This Graveyard Earth, for those remembering that... thing) and the Beerman War era. A while later, the site was recruiting reviewers so I jumped into the van and started writing. These days, being very busy with my various different projects, I must say that I've neglected the reviews and that I post sporadically on the Forum (perhaps once a year^^) but I still maintain the News feed on the FB page for the site. So when you see a video, a new single or an info popping up that is not a review or interview, there's a 99% chance that I was the one that posted it.

You're heavily involved in the Metal scene in general, aren't you? Would you care to share a bit of background on that, too?

LL: It all started in that glorious decade that was the '90s. Like Motörhead sang : "You cannot understand if you weren't there". Contrary to popular belief, Grunge didn't kill Metal but brought it Underground, where it started to thrive like never before and we got such great times with Death Metal, Black Metal, Power Metal and, of course, Doom Metal with the birth of Doom/Death, Funeral Doom, Gothic Doom and so many more. Around '93, I started to write for some fanzines who rarely got more than 4 issues but I didn't care. My best memories of those days was the 3 first promo records I got from labels for reviewing purposes : Unleashed "Shadows In The Deep" promo CD, Death "Individual Thought Pattern" promo tape and Cathedral "The Carnival Bizarre" CD (with a nice promo sheet doubling as both a poster and the cover art). I spent most of the '90s like that, writing and helping friends to organize gigs. I got internet access in 2002, which changed many things for me. Mostly finding message boards (see the Dimmu Borgir stuff I was talking above), in which I started to write album reviews in English.This brought me to write for various webzines, then getting contacted by Metallian Magazine (one of the leading French Metal magazines) in 2007, for which I still continue to write nowadays (mostly Doom related stuff). I've also done a bit of radio, from the '90s up until the '10s, mostly intervening in shows done by friends to talk about Doom Metal and present some records. I've stopped helping in organizing gigs, but I still help bands in getting contacts with various organizers or labels that I know, either in France or other countries.

Hello to you, too, Stéphane, and thanks for joining us. Would you like to introduce yourself?

SLS: Bonjour Mike! Well, I'm 50 years old, metalhead since 1982, living in Brittany (west of France) just nearby the mythical forest of Broceliande and about half an hour from the bay of Morbihan, one of the most beautiful places on this planet! I've lived with Nathalie for 22 years, we have two sons, a nasty beautiful dog, a lousy cat, two old cars… After having worked about 25 years as a firm accountant, for about two years now I've been working as teacher in accountancy and payroll processing for adults (justice detainees, unemployed people…). That's about it for the most essential!

I've certainly seen your name mentioned in Doom circles, and I know you've run at least one Doom blog. How and when did you get first get interested in the genre, and what other involvements do you have with it?

SLS: I got interested in the genre quite some time ago now, as I bought "Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus" just a few days after it came out on Black Dragon rds in 86*!!! At that time and until I reached 30, I was living in Paris and it was pretty easy to find all the Black Dragon releases (argh the record shop JukeBox was incredible especially!), loads of great stuff came out on this fine label, Manilla Road, Heir Apparent, Steel Vengeance, Sacred Blade, Savage Grace…but Candlemass was definitely the most special, more fitting with my dark soul than any other band before, yet still melodic and immensely heavy; needless to say that this album had a major impact on me. Then other bands came quickly to my ears like Trouble, Saint Vitus, Revelation…

* Editor's note: How cool is that - 30 years down the line, you simply run into someone who took more or less exactly the same route, and many of the same influences, as their Doom foundation!

The blog was pretty recent, so indeed, as you allow me, there's a bit more to tell about before… I have been running fanzines since some long time ago! First one was called Raging Metal in 1988, two issues came out written in French… then I started to make things more serious with a new one written in English called In My Veins. Four issues came out from '89 to early '92; very good experience and it feels always good to think about having interviewed bands like Disembowelment, The Gathering, Vital Remains, Carbonized, Massacra, Mortuary Drape, Schizo, My Dying Bride, etc…

From 1992 to 1996, I closely helped one of the very first death/doom bands from France that was called Astral Rising… they released one EP and 2 albums (the 2nd being released by Jean-Marc Tristani's label Active Rds (the guitarist of Massacra was established in Germany by that time) in that period. I took care of promotion and booking gigs. They played with Mutilated, Misanthrope, Sadist, Sacramental Sachem, Channel Zero, Mirror of Deception, Dawn of Winter, etc… many fun memories with gigs in Holland, Belgium, Germany…

After a long (doomy) hiatus, I came back to underground activities in 2011 with the blog Temple of Perdition which lasted about 3 years, featuring many many cool interviews of doom bands especially… I came back also to "management" with helping my buddies in BARABBAS who have 2 albums released so far and hopefully a new one to come in 2020… Loads of great moments with them too, they've played with such numerous amazing doom bands!!! I organized small tours for those nasty saints with Goatess in 2014 and Lord Vicar in 2015; they also played 3 dates with Apostle of Solitude on their first Euro tour, festivals in France, Denmark, Malta…

Do you have any other strong involvements with other genres of music?

SLS: To tell the truth, I've never been a serious fan of any other genre of music than METAL… but of course, I do listen to some other kind of stuff (traditional music from Brittany, some reggae...) and occasionally like to attend non-Metal gigs/festivals with my wife and/or elder son.

So, we're really here to discuss the Sleeping Church Records' release of 'Doom Or Be Doomed : A French Tribute To Cathedral', something you were both heavily involved in. Having established your all-round Metal credentials, what's your take on the current state of French Doom, generally?

SLS: The French doom metal scene is solid and very diverse; don't you think that this tribute is a good proof of this statement? And if you wish to go further and discover original songs from most of the bands featured on the tribute and a shitload of others, I encourage you to listen to the amazing compilation I curated for Billy Goate's "Doomed and Stoned in France" last November !

When I say that our scene is solid, I'm not only speaking of its quality but also of its unity; sadly we have always suffered from a serious lack of support from most of the actors of the scene (magazines, labels, audience) who have been focused on black and death metal for 3 decades now…90% of the French doom bands do 90% of their affairs on a DIY basis.

LL: I personally think that the current French scene, when it comes to Doom, is one of the most interesting worldwide because of its incredible diversity. We're very far from the desert it used to be in the early to mid-'00s, when there were barely a dozen bands active and mostly in the Doom/Death style (Ataraxie leading the way, because nobody was giving a shit about Northwinds, which was a bloody shame if you ask me). Then, by the mid-'00s it started to rise, with many new bands popping up and there, before once again going stale around 7 years ago. But luckily, it started to rise again with many new bands delivering huge riffs. It must be said that the tribute covers but a very small portion of what is French Doom nowadays, and four more CDs would have been necessary just to cover every interesting band we have currently active!

How and when did the idea of this particular tribute start to germinate? Which way round did it form - was the foundation the idea of specifically doing a Cathedral tribute, and fitting French bands into that, or the idea of doing an all-French Doom tribute where the most appropriate material ended up being Cathedral's?

SLS: It all started in a private group I've run on FB since 2012, called "doom frenchy corner", including many representatives from a great part of the French doom scene. I posted a statement in May 2017 regretting a kind of inactive status of the scene for some long months, whereas the period from 2011 to 2015 had been a bit more creative and flourishing… lots of comments followed and we soon decided to work on a common project of compilation, which soon turned into a project of tribute… which soon ended as a project of tribute to Cathedral!!! The votes were largely in favour of Cathedral, followed by Type O Negative and Celtic Frost…really, there has been no real debate for the choice of the band!

How would you describe Cathedral's importance in shaping and influencing Doom over the years? What's your personal favourite part(s) of their discography?

LL: There wouldn't be 'Modern' Doom, so to speak, without Cathedral. They were one of the 5 most important Doom bands of the '90s, and I do consider them to be as important to doom in the '90s as Reverend Bizarre were to Doom in the '00s. There were the first ones to have brought full on ' 70s Prog Rock and '60s Psyche Rock influences into Doom Metal. If you think about it, how many '70s Retro bands we have nowadays would exist, if not for records like "Ethereal Mirror" and "Carnival Bizarre"? That riff in "Hopkins"... Bands just DREAM to find a hook like that!! And there they were doing all that with that classy English humour, because face it: there have never been a better joke in the whole of Doom Metal than "The Devil's Summit", and it's a good song too. Who, in the Metal scene, had heard of Arthur Brown before Cathedral covered "Fire"?* And how many Metalheads ended looking for Dead Can Dance because they were listed as an influence in the "Forest Of Equilibrium" booklet ? What Cathedral did was simply to be a step ahead of the pack with every one of their releases. I know they don't like it, but the whole Stoner/Doom style owes its existence not to Electric Wizard and Sleep but to "Supernatural Birth Machine" and "Carnival Bizarre". And that's just a few of their many, many musical achievements. If I had to choose a favourite record from their career, it would be "The Carnival Bizarre" for me: mostly because it's the first record form them that I wrote about, but also because it opened my tastes to a shitload of new stuff I didn't know existed, like Sir Lord Baltimore.

* Editor's note: Me, actually! I'm sufficiently old that all of those original bands were the cornerstone of my formative years, and I went back to their influences, so it's particularly interesting to see how that cycle continued into the next generation.

SLS: Man, each one had its original identity, but, along with Candlemass, Cathedral were THE European band Doom metal band for 25 years… "Forest Of Equilibrium" is one of the most influential metal albums ever composed, it's not a coincidence that this is the most represented album on the tribute! Beyond their general sound and concept, one thing that I always enjoyed with Cathedral is that they have constantly been enriching their basis with diverse unconventional characters, while so many bands have comfortably produced the same stuff over and over; all the way through Cathedral broke many codes.

Of course, at first I'm thinking about the first album as my favourite but with a bit more reflection I would place "The Guessing Game" at the same rank in the end, I think that musically they reached something immensely rich and unconventional while keeping their legendary weird identity.

Was this your first involvement in putting an album together, or had you got any previous experience to call upon? Who else was involved in the project to begin with - Laurent's press release credits Stéphane in particular: was it just the two of you initially?

SLS: Honestly it's really not just me, not just Laurent or just both of us, I think that at least 50% of the bands playing on the tribute were kind of involved from the very beginning; as I said, I posted that statement, and from then on we discussed about what could be the best way to shine a bit more light on our scene. I kind of coordinated the project during the first stages, collecting the submissions, trying to fix a plan, find a name for the tribute… Everything has always been concerted and it certainly helped to make things clear for everyone and release the product with not too long a delay too !

LL: I don't consider myself having been that involved because, from my point of view, all I did was just to contact many bands to ask them "well, would you care to record a track for a tribute album?", and then just doing my best to talk about it when it was released. Wait...now, come to think of it, it WAS a lot of work when I look back at it ^^. But I didn't record anything, I didn't spent hours rehearsing, and so on. To me, the bands did the most of the work, and the tribute wouldn't have happened if we didn't have them involved in the first place. As Stéphane said, both of us just did 50% of the work, and Stéphane most of it since he came with the idea in the first place and without that... You could say somehow that he planted the seed, and I sowed it. As a matter of fact, I didn't have any experience in doing a record before. Mostly helping friends with their own releases by spreading the word online and talking about it

When did you start the project in earnest, and what was your selection process - how did you pick the bands and the tracks to be included?

SLS: In May 2017. The selection process was pretty simple… each band interested was good and motivated enough to avoid any awkward situation! Each band proposed its choice quickly and everyone was informed instantaneously, so maybe one or two of them intended to cover a song already taken but in the end I think each were pleased with their song.

I just regret that we couldn't have included a few more bands; Moonskin, Lying Figures, Forsaken Peddlers, The Bottle Doom Lazy Band gave up for various reasons and a few others contacted weren't interested, like Witchthroat Serpent or Sektarism. Also a couple of really cool new bands were interested a bit later, when the project was revealed, but it was too late for them… oh well, nothing's ever perfect, but the result in the end is definitely great !

As you see it took just a bit more than 2 years to get released… not that bad for a doom metal project in France, whereas the regular delay between most bands' releases is 5 or 6 years, hahaha! It also allowed some of them to keep their fans awake…

LL: As I said, between both of us we must have contacted every French band currently active. But not just them - for example, Goat River had actually stopped all activities some years ago, but I really wanted to have them on the tribute if possible.

They are from my birth city of Toulouse, and I saw them play many times when they were active. If you're into The Melvins, but with a stronger Doom Metal edge, then their few records are worth tracking down. I knew that all the ex-members were huge Cathedral fans, so I contacted them to ask if they would be keen to reform Goat River just to record a cover. It seems that they liked that experience so much that the band is once again active. So, yeah: that's probably the thing I'm the most proud about this record.

Did you put any limits on what bands were asked to submit, or did they have a completely free hand to cover, interpret or re-work the originals?

SLS: Seriously, who am I to put limits to any of those guys??? I definitely couldn't say to my old brother Philippe from Misanthrope "you gotta sing "Soul Sacrifice" in English or we won't take it!"

On the other hand it's true that I could have said to Steph from Barabbas "hey, what the fuck did you do with the lyrical translation of 'Ride'"? Hahaha! Just kidding, his adaptation is simply amazing!!! Those guys have been creative, why try to limit that? Just as with Ataraxie and their introduction of saxophone on 'Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain', it's brilliant!!! Monolithe's haunting growled vocals on the tribute are totally ripping! And so on… really, it would have been a real mistake to not let all bands have a completely free hand to cover Cathedral. LL: Total freedom, that is. What would be the point in telling each band what they should do or how they should sound ? Also, this makes for some awesome versions: Stéphane mentioned a bunch of the weirdest ones, but I am personally amazed by the ultra-spatial version by Monolithe (which sounds more like an unreleased Monolithe track than a cover version), the funeral vibe of the Conviction one (those choirs... !!). I also had the pleasure to hear the version by Lux Incerta live, when they opened for Monolithe in Paris, and it was truly a blast. There is only ONE point on which I'm disappointed : no one covered a track from "The Carnival Bizarre"!! I can understand that nobody would like to touch such a masterpiece as "Hopkins", or try to put their feet in Tony Iommi's shoes for the solo of "Utopian Blaster" but for the rest...I could have eaten my balls in salad just to hear a version of the title track or "Vampire Sun"!!

When we put together our own MDB tribute a few years ago, I remember being absolutely amazed by how enthusiastic the bands we involved were, and how much they put into crafting their contributions. Was it the same sort of experience with this project?

SLS: Yes, definitely, I think everyone took it as a fantastic opportunity and put 100% of their talent into it… When Cathedral posted a couple of fine words about the tribute on their FB page a few weeks ago, let me tell you that some pants got quickly wet all around the country, hahaha!!

LL: Totally that. I was in contact, with Lee Dorrian for the project, mostly to have his blessing with it. He told me that the only thing he wanted to hear was something that would sound different than a simple copycat of the song; Something with personality. When he told me he would put a Facebook status about the compilation, right after having heard just 3 songs, I was happy. But then, I saw the reaction of the fans and it was even better. And when Adam Lehan, their old guitar player, even started to push it himself... Well, I don't what Heaven must be, but to me it was pretty close :)

When did Sleeping Church Records get involved in the process? Obviously there is a connection there, with Father Merrin appearing on the album, but at what point was it agreed that they would do the release?

SLS: There's a connection with Aymerick from Father Merrin and Sleeping Church rds indeed, the two other guys behind the label are in Presumption. They're a young label but have already released some good stuff (The Bottle Doom Lazy Band, Presumption, Father Merrin/Clegane, Rituals, etc…) and there's definitely more to expect from them in a near future, watch out !

I think Sleeping Church rds showed their first signs of interest in May 2018 and proposed a concrete deal in October, everyone quickly agreed it was a fair proposition and that the guys were serious and dedicated enough to release the tribute. It's just a 500 copies pressing, but who knows, maybe there could be another one?!!!

LL: As curious as it may sound, but every label contacted simply wasn't interested. So we were starting to think about doing a virtual release to sell on Bandcamp when finally Sleeping Church Rcords told us they would release it. And now, the first press is nearly sold out and I've been contacted by the same labels that didn't wanted to release it in the first place to get some copies!! Sorry, folks: first come, first served!

What about all the ancillary but essential tasks - artwork, packaging design, even just picking the running order of the tracks (though that does look suspiciously like straightforward chronological order, someone still had to decide on that) - who dealt with all that?

SLS: All the artwork and packaging have been nicely realised by Kax Nivore, a promising artist.. she did very fine work. I heard some criticism about the artwork which was undeserved in my opinion; I think that in her way she also payed homage to Cathedral's Dave Patchett and crafted a weird psyched-out introduction to this tribute.

LL: The chronological order was an obvious thing to do, mostly in order to showcase the evolution of Cathedral's sound but also to put the more extreme bands on one CD and the less extreme on the other. But all the mixing was done by Frédéric Patte-Brasseur (from Ataraxie, Funeralium and Conviction), in order to give the whole record some kind of identical sound. You could call it a "sonic identity" or something. I knew his work in this field from before, but I think he really has outdone himself here.

You ended up with a full 90-minute double CD - are there any plans to have it also released on vinyl? As a matter of interest, what do you guys think of the recent vinyl resurgence, particularly in underground circles - is it a format you appreciate, or something you consider a bit gimmicky and pointless?

SLS: No plans for a vinyl release as of yet…but if Rise Above comes with a fair proposition, we'll take it in consideration, hahaha !

I think that the vinyl resurgence is a good thing in many ways, but I very rarely buy vinyls in this century and had sold 95% of all my old stuff during the long hiatus I spoke about earlier (got regularly whipped for this, hahaha)…Not as many as earlier in this decade, but I still buy CDs regularly, even if in all honesty I'm not according too much importance to physical products. I do admire vinyl collectors, I've followed a couple of guys on FB for some long time now and always get very impressed by their absolute dedication to Metal vinyls after all those years!!!

LL: We had a lot of questions about a vinyl release; This is something we would REALLY like to do, but it's pretty damn expensive and the label is a bit too young to try that right now. Still, if another label would like to do a joint release for a vinyl version (obviously, it will be a double LP), then please contact directly Sleeping Church Records through their Facebook: they really want to do it, and I think a lot of people would be totally crazy to get it in such a format. For the second question, I know I'm a minority here but I don't buy vinyl released after 2005. This is not as a kind of rebel attitude about the hipsterisation of the format, more of a question of sound : the old albums were recorded on analogic equipment, which gave a definitely different sound on LP than on CD. Nowadays, all is recorded using electronic equipment, and what is sold to you as 'really different sounding vinyl' is nothing more than glorified MP3 put on wax. Considering than MP3 isn't exactly the best format to listen to music, I prefer to continue to buy CDs, since the current state of recording equipment is designed specifically with the CD format in mind. I only buy on vinyl when I don't have a choice (like an EP, for example) or an old version I can find in second hand stores. But even for an old record, I will always choose the CD over the LP if I have the choice.

While we're digressing slightly, where do you stand on physical versus purely electronic formats in general? Is it important to you to have a "real" version of music?

SLS: Yes it's important but not essential, I mean, decently I can't buy everything I'd like and I even don't need to get it all physically, I try to live with my time and Bandcamp is a part of it, hahaha!

LL: It is very important for me to have a real version, mostly because I tend to forget what I have only in electronical format, while I just have to look around my collection to find a record. Also, because I like the physical object: reading the booklet, the lyrics, the thank list, watching the cover art... However, there are some musical styles for which I think the electronic format is better suited. I was recently introduced to an electronic musical style called Chillwave by a friend and, despite the format trying to duplicate the days of the tape format, it is really a style that function better as virtual-only music; same goes with the Synthwave, for example. But I couldn't get a Metal record, of any style, just as a virtual thing.

I bought a copy myself, and the only minor criticism I'd have is that the plastic jewel case itself is a definite cost-cutting exercise - it's cheap, nasty and flimsy - while everything else about the presentation seems spot on. So, how pleased are you with the final results? Is it everything you were hoping for?

SLS: Thanx for ordering Mike! Yeah, I noticed that too, it's not that important indeed and if there's a vinyl release the problem will be solved ! Globally the result is more than satisfying and we can't thank enough Sleeping Church rds for their work.

We've reviewed the album: is there anything in there you'd like to comment on, good or bad, to put "on the record", as it were?

SLS: Link doesn't work for me, and I can't find it online, I do believe it'll be published along with the interview or something, so I'll leave it to Laurent!

LL: Nothing for me as it is. Each one is entitled to his own opinion and, whatever the review will say, good or bad, it will still spark reactions. And that's all I'm needing :)

And, finally, how would you personally commend it to prospective buyers? Should it appeal equally to fans of the participating bands or fans of Cathedral themselves, or do you see it is being of wider interest within the Doom/Metal community?

SLS: Hard to say, first I hope for every band that none of their fans could be disappointed by listening them covering Cathedral! Well it's nice if some of their fans discover Cathedral through this tribute, just as it would be cool if some Cathedral fans discover French bands thanx to it!!! For the rest, it's hard to imagine that this could have an impact on people who like doom but are not especially fans of Cathedral!

LL: You like Cathedral? We have it here! You like Funeral Doom? We have it here! Perhaps you prefer something more Trad, or Stoner? We also have it here! In fact, if you just like Doom, then you'll surely find something for your taste in this compilation! It should appeal to every Doom metal fan, as broad as you can get within the musical style, because we cover nearly every base here. Well, what we're missing is a pure Gothic Doom band with some female vocals but maybe for a future tribute, who knows ? And also, of course, what we need is more cowbell :)

Well, I think that's everything I wanted to ask about the album - is there anything you'd like to add, or to close off in your own words?

SLS: Thanx a lot to you, Mike and Doom Metal.com for those fine questions, it's been a real pleasure. It's great to see that your site is well alive, thanx for your dedication -
Be curious and valorous: order the tribute and support our scene !!!
Doomed greetings to you all.

LL: Thanks a lot for the interview. It feels a bit weird for me to be on the other side of the questions, for a change (but then, I've been answering a lot of interviews about the tribute recently). I think this is what Comrade Aleks must have felt also when I've interviewed him for the first volume of the "Doom Metal Lexicanum". The current French scene has a lot to offer nowadays to all you Doom freaks, and it is just the beginning. I would like to thank Stéphane, of course, but also every band involved and the label for having put their effort in making this crazy idea a reality. Also, many many thanks to you Mike, and to all the staff past, present and future at Doom-Metal.Com : expect to see me coming around for some reviews one of these days, you haven't seen or read the last word of this Frenchie :) And finally, thanks mostly goes to YOU who will read this interview, who will interact on the Forum, who will buy the record, who will then contact the bands and will continue to makes the scene alive as a whole. In the words of the great Lee Dorrian : "This funky Doom scene is insane" Thanks for keeping it that way for many more years to come.

Then I just need to add my thanks again, Laurent, both for your time now and for all the support you've given us over the years. And, likewise, thanks to you Stéphane for participating. Doom on, my friends!

Appendix: In the bands' own words

As mentioned in the introduction, Laurent contacted all of the participating bands with the question: "What does Cathedral mean to you, and why did you choose to cover this specific song?". It's not entirely exclusive, as each band has a bit of space in the CD booklet, and obviously some of this is covered there - but many of them took the opportunity to expand further on that topic here. Thanks to Laurent for collating all the answers.

GOAT RIVER – 'Ebony Tears' ('Forest Of Equilibrium', 1991)
Christophe Carrier (guitars): Cathedral was, is and will always be the purest definition of Doom. I got into Doom through Forest of Equilibrium back in 91. And it was a blast! For the first time I was hearing a band playing slower and heavier than The Melvins ! Which seemed to be impossible back in those days. After singing in the fastest band in the world, Lee Dorrian had created the slowest one! It was pure punk genius. Plus, the long Doom bands list in the booklet of Forest Of Equilibrium has been a very important guide in my Doom culture. For all these reasons, Cathedral is still the most influential band in the Doom scene in my opinion.We chose to cover « Ebony Tears » because for many of us it was the first Cathedral song we've ever heard. The idea was to pay tribute going back to where it all began for us, and it was this song.

LUX INCERTA – 'Serpent Eve' ('Forest Of Equilibrium', 1991)
Gilles Moinet (guitars): I have been listening to Cathedral for 25 years. It's a cornerstone of the Doom/Stoner genre, and even heavy metal, which has brought its own style. I discovered them with the album "Carnival Bizarre", album that remains to this day one of my favorite albums in Doom genre. Cathedral, with My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, influenced me a lot in my musical choices for the future, as well as for writing music for my band Lux Incerta. We had thought for a time to cover a song from "Carnival" (which is unfortunately not represented on "Doom or be Doomed" at all), but songs on this album are, I think, too complicated to cover to do something better. So we opted for an early career title of Cathedral, more old school and close to Doom roots.

MISANTHROPE – 'Soul Sacrifice' ('Forest Of Equilibrium', 1991)
Philippe Courtois de l'Argillière (vocals): Together with their colleagues from Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, Cathedral forms the pillars of our favourite style: Doom Metal. They are the British reference of this style, precursor, veteran and passionate of the pachydermic aesthetics and culture. This French cover of «Soul Sacrifice» was obvious to Misanthrope. Since 1993, when we purchased the EP "Soul Sacrifice" this song was in our "cover" to do list. This track has a complex structure, killer solos, fast and groovy riffing for a Doom track, and Lee’s "Come-on", "oh Yeah" are just amazing. We did a French version of the lyrics, while scrupulously respecting the English text, it was a very interesting words work. A major title in the work of our respected elder: Lee Dorrian. We miss you so much. Respect, worship and adoration.

PRESUMPTION – 'Equilibrium' ('Forest Of Equilibrium', 1991)
Moomoot (bass, vocals): This music perfectly illustrates Patchett's cover: disturbing and crazy. It also ends with a gloomy descent into hell. Moreover, it's for us the one that comes closer to the "no rule, no traditional stuff" Presumption style.

ATARAXIE – 'Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain' ('Forest Of Equilibrium', 1991)
Frédéric Patte-Brasseur (guitars): As far as I remember, we were all listening to Cathedral in Ataraxie. Forest of Equilibrium was especially one of the albums we would play in the car while driving to gigs (and we still do), because it has this extreme dimension in heaviness and slowness that has inspired us a lot. On a personal level, I find that Gaz Jenning’s science of riffage to be very overlooked, and he should be regarded the gifted son of Iommi. When we learnt about this Cathedral tribute album project, we instantly wanted to be part of it. We specifically chose « Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain » because we wanted to do something original, bring our very own thing, and not choose the title that would be too "obvious". It’s probably the most tortured song of Forest Of Equilibrium, so it inspired us a lot!

BARABBAS – 'Ride' ('The Ethereal Mirror ', 1993)
The band: Big doom riffs, great songwriting, cool literary and cinematographic references (Hammer films ! Blind dead!), stunning album covers you could spent hours immersing yourself in… Yes, Cathedral had it all and that would be enough to rank them amongst the major bands in the field. But more than that, they bravely and boldly went where no doom band had gone before (well, except Black Sabbath, of course). Cathedral meant artistic freedom. Applying the old Crowley motto, they « did what they wilt », when they wanted, no matter what people thought. It took guts, faith and confidence in your vision to go against the grain with Forest Of Equilibrium (a landmark, whose influence can still be heard today) at a time where death metal ruled supreme. And when lots of bands would have happily recycled ad nauseam the formula of Forest…, instead, the men of Coventry chose to explore new territories, never afraid to experiment within the boundaries of the genre, adding more colours to their spectrum and broadening the definition of doom. Sometimes, it worked (the 70s groove of « Midnight Mountain », the psych-folk tinged « The Garden »), sometimes not (« Kaleidoscope Of Desire », anyone ?). But these experimentations added an element of surprise to their albums. With Saint-Vitus, you know exactly what to expect from the next album. It was much more difficult to guess what Cathedral would have in mind, and that’s why their corpus is so exciting, ranging from the filthy dirge-like anthems of In Memoriam to the '70s delicacies of The Guessing Game. Cathedral was one of our main influences when we formed Barabbas. It’s pretty obvious when you listen to « Horizon Golgotha », one of our first songs, which was heavily inspired by « Ride ». So covering this particular song and trying to inject a bit of that Cathedral-like creative freedom in it, was our way to pay our dues to our primary source of inspiration. Besides, it’s a fucking great song : massive riff, fat groove, dark mood and a beautiful atmospheric solo. When Lee Dorian yells « Riiide ! », who would miss the journey?

MONOLITHE – 'Enter The Worm(hole)s' ('The Ethereal Mirror', 1993)
Sylvain Bégot (guitars, bass, keyboards, programming): Cathedral has been my introduction to Doom Metal, plain and simple. I was a young metalhead in the early nineties; I had just started playing the guitar and trying to figure out how to be in a band. I was hooked on fast music at the time, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, you name it. A friend from high school played me Forest of Equilibrium in the summer of 1992 and… I can’t say it was a revelation! I actually hated it at first. Why was it so slow? That sounded so boring to me. But there was also something fascinating about it. It was so hypnotic… At that time, we were copying albums on audiotapes and I asked my friend to copy this one for me amongst other stuff. At the end of the day, despite my first reluctance with the style, I ended up listening to this album more often than any of the other bands from the same batch of copies. This music, this album, was really a grower. And that’s how Cathedral became an important band in the development of my musical tastes, as a listener, but also as a musician. The Soul Sacrifice EP came out as a surprise, with this change of style. I liked it, though. But when The Ethereal Mirror came out, I had a massive, massive crush on the album. I loved everything about it: the massive but clear detuned guitar sound, the music, the lyrics, the artwork, the raw vocal performance of Lee Dorian, and of course: the songs! To this day, I still think it’s a phenomenal album and it remains my favourite from the whole Cathedral catalogue. My two favourite songs are “Ride” and “Enter The Worms”. These two… They are just delightful. The reason why Monolithe, or rather I, chose to cover the latter, is because I have a slight preference for this one out of the two, but also because it seemed to fit more to my band’s style. So, we ended-up recording that one, and the guys and I are pretty satisfied about the result. This is a very cool song, with a slow building and a super enthralling climax reached during the solos. The second riff of the song is really awesome and a real pleasure to play. I changed the lyrics in a way that would fit our usual “space” topic but without losing the original flair and rhythm of the text. That wasn’t an easy thing to do but I think it turned-out pretty well!

CONVICTION – 'Stained Glass Horizon' ('Supernatural Birth Machine', 1996)
Olivier Verron (vocals, guitars): After Black Sabbath, Cathedral was the first Doom Metal band I got into. I had listened to My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, but Cathedral had a much more old school vibe which struck a chord in me. I discovered them at the times of The Ethereal Mirror, and went straight into their back catalogue. Forest Of Equilibrium was a devastating shock, and I played it again, again, and again in my walkman. It made me want to put up a Doom band, but at this time, most musicians I knew were not interested in playing Doom, I just had to wait a little twenty years till we all grew up hehe... So here we were in 1995, Cathedral then played a show in Paris along with Deicide, Brutal Truth, Sinister Kataklysm & Fleshcrawl, at the time of the Carnival Bizarre release. A total Death Metal bill on which they were absolute aliens ! A fantastic concert, I will honestly always remember it as one of the most important concerts of my life. Most of the Death Metalheads had left the venue when Cathedral played, which was not a bad thing cause at least we could breathe and had space ! I guess the French audience did not understand Lee Dorrian’s humour, when he had told in an interview that Cathedral were "disco hippies" haha. They were amazing, Gaz Jennings' sound was massive and Lee Dorrian was... Fucking possessed ! As Cathedral’s career went on, every release had a surprising dimension, and a real personality in the whole Metal scene... I was quite saddened when they split up. I still see Cathedral as truly fascinating, and I bitterly miss them ! Hopefully, this tribute will lead the new generation to rediscover them... That’s the least we can hope ! The choice of « Stained Glass Horizon » was something I didn’t have to think about for too long. A song from Forest Of Equilibrium would have been too obvious, and this album is so perfect to me that I thought we were not worth touching it hehe... And I love Supernatural Birth Machine, which is an album that’s often looked over by Doom fundamentalists, because of its mostly mid tempo approach and positive vibes. I figured out that bringing back a Doom touch by slowing the tempo would give the song an interesting perspective, and Fred had this idea of mashing up the riffs wih... Another Cathedral song ! The fans will guess which hehe ! It makes it like a sort of hidden double tribute which is a cool idea I think... We could also have done something from Carnival Bizarre, which is an album I adore, but I thought most bands would choose either Forest, or Carnival. Curiously, no one did cover any song from Carnival, but « Night Of The Seagulls » would have been a very interesting song to cover. Or « Utopian Blaster »... Cathedral did so many fantastic songs. Truly great band, I really miss them a lot. Taking part in this tribute was hence an offer I couldn’t refuse. I hope you enjoy it!

FATHER MERRIN – 'Congregation Of Sorcerers' ('The VIIth Coming', 2002)
S. (drums): CATHEDRAL to us is simply the best embodiment of Doom Metal. They were so talented and have always had a very distinctive style. We chose to cover "Congregation of Sorcerers" because it is such a crushing track, with a strong CELTIC FROST vibe. It has always been a personal favorite of mine and it quickly became an obvious choice of cover song for FATHER MERRIN.

DIONYSIAQUE – 'This Body, Thy Tomb' ('The Last Spire', 2013)
N. (vocals): This is a band whose influence can't be denied when it comes to Doom Metal. Of course many people still rely on the early releases of CATHEDRAL because most of this stuff became classic. In DYONISIAQUE, we thought that it would be a good idea to pay tribute to the band by covering the last track of their last album. This made sense as a farewell. Little did we know that the members of CATHEDRAL would appreciate this double cd compilation made by a bunch of French doomsters.

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Interviewed on 2019-10-17 by Mike Liassides.
Aesthetic Death
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