Cerebus Effect - "Acts of Deception"
From Aural Innovations #33 (March 2006)
Cerebus Effect hail from the same semi-legendary Baltimore-D.C. scene that, over the years, has produced several excellent progressive rock groups, including The Muffins and Mars Everywhere. Though they've been together for over five years, Acts of Deception is Cerebus Effect's first full-length release. And as one might expect of a scion of post-progressive rock, Cerebus Effect delivers a taut, often intense, reinterpretation of the codex of rock tempered by the elegance and sophistication of art. Spread across the eleven tracks of Acts of Deception, one can hear the unmistakable influence of such prog rock powerhouses as King Crimson, Magma, Genesis, Gentle Giant and National Health, with perhaps a distant echo of Henry Cow and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Beyond the obvious points of reference, however, the individual members' instrumental chops are impressive, particularly the fiery guitar pyrotechnics of guitarist/keyboardist Joseph Walker and the artful, Chris Cutler-esque clatter of drummer Patrick Gaffney. Both Walker and Gaffney burn bright on the epic "Operation Midnight Climax," a piece that moves effortlessly between the manic and the ethereal. Dan Britton's sub-operatic vocals (with more than a hint of Klaus Blasquiz) are appropriately demonic, and Mike Galway's surging, propulsive bass explodes through the shifting tempos like a stampeding mastodon. In fact, the constant torque of twisting time signatures is a salient feature of Cerebus Effect's appeal and figures predominantly in "Nine Against Ten," where each member is given the opportunity to display his technical proficiency. And while the group's occasional forays into neo-classical ("Unconsoled") and jazz fusion ("Neutrino Flux") are best passed over in silence, pieces like "Identity Crisis" and "Y" are explosive salvos of sound that have the ability to leave the listener breathless and shell-shocked. The same can be said of the album's closing track,"W," a driving monolith of sonic architecture that reminds one of the early work of Djam Karet, albeit with Joseph Zawinul manning the keyboards. In sum, Acts of Deception is an impressive first major work by a group that undoubtedly has a bright future in the 21st century American art rock nexus.
For more information you can visit the Cerebus Effect web site at: http://www.cerebuseffect.com.
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Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree