Mike Prete    26-August-2001 Stained Glass Stories

Why is it that so many American prog bands from the 70s released one or two great albums and then just disappeared? Along with Happy The Man and Yezda Ufra, Cathedral was able to put out an excellent album before departing into obscurity. Stained Glass Stories is a unique blending of similar symphonic bands of the golden age of prog, most prominently King Crimson and Yes, with the occasional flourish of Genesis and Gentle Giant.

The two instrumental qualities that immediately jump out are the prominent addition of lush mellotron passages and the fat Rickenbacker bass reminiscent of Chris Squire. The guitar playing is an interesting combination of Howe- and Fripp-like styles and a large contribution to the band's overall sound. The vocals are sometimes reminiscent of Gentle Giant singer Derek Shluman in how they sound, but are often delivered in an overly dramatic and anguished tone that might detract for some. The songs are all long and complex pieces with plenty of instrumental action.

"Introspect" is a great opener with influences from all the aforementioned bands. "The Crossing" has a very nice church-like chorus to open up the best vocal piece on the album. "Days & Changes" really takes a page out of the Yes book, with guitar that sounds just like Howe, and some mellotron sounds that are presumably the band's wordless vocals.

This album is a no-brainer for fans of traditional 70s symphonic. Although it draws heavily on bands of that time, it is still very unique and original.

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