2005 private (CD)
2005 was one of those years. In retrospect, it will likely go down in history like 1972. One those special times when musicians around the world had a hankering to release an album. The sheer volume of releases in 2005 was overwhelming. I remember it well, because it happened to also be an extremely busy time for me in my career. I was trying to do everything, including keeping up with this music thing, which is strictly a hobby. Forget it. I can remember seemingly every day writing down what looked like an interesting album. It was an impossible task to keep up with. According to Gnosis, 2005 has the second most ratings of any year, only bested by 2007, which I attribute more to the burgeoning download culture that had just exploded onto the landscape, and some of the ratings junkies couldn't resist the new free heroin. But 2005 seemed to be the peak year for real honest-to-God pressed CDs, before the return of vinyl confused everyone and killed the industry. Now we know 2005 represented the "bubble", as those of us who follow the trading markets would say.
The prelude is contained in this review because Cerebus Effect is one of hundreds of quality releases that slid under most everyone's radar. And like the music of the early 70s, much of it wasn't discovered until 15 to 25 years later. And I suspect a similar type response for the mid 2000s, except it may take even longer, past many folk's own lifetime I would imagine. So how did I end up with 'Acts of Deception'? My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe either Dan Britton (keyboards) sent it to me gratis, or I paid a small fee, perhaps only the postage, as a special offer through one of the chat boards. Otherwise, I would imagine it never would have entered this house - even today. And that would have been a loss for me. Like many albums from 2005, I heard it once - maybe twice - filed it (which means I liked it) with no notes, a nice grade, and had little recollection about it. It was recently chosen by the random number generator, and I finally have given it the proper listen (multiple times in fact). It's much better than I recalled. And I fear many others would say the same, but now it's too late for the band to benefit.
Cerebus Effect were a group from Baltimore (interestingly, that's where my physical office is today as I write this), who in my mind anyway, represent the American way of consolidating global progressive rock into their own vision. The meter goes to the far right "red zone" of hardcore traditional progressive rock. Very energetic, fast, complex, dense, yet still highly melodic, old school progressive rock. When I say old school, I mean its approach to composition, more so than vintage gear and 70s sounds (though there's some of that too). When analyzing 1970s American progressive rock, what you had were some groups that consolidated all they had learned from the great progressive bands of their day, mainly the big names of English progressive rock (Yes, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, et al), mashed them up, and came up with their own crazy variation. Bands like Cathedral, Mirthrandir, Yezda Urfa, and Pentwater (archival release) are great examples of this. So now it's 2005, and you have 30+ more years of musical inputs, plus a global internet culture that put everyone in touch with even the most obscure progressive rock bands from around the world. So Cerebus Effect took all of that as data points, and created 'Acts of Deception'. It's almost too much to absorb. You'll hear Genesis to Santana to Cheer Accident to Fates Warning here, and everything in between. It's not a Latin rock album, nor is it metal, but there's dash of each in here. What I like most about Cerebus Effect, is that they blend their influences together like the masters used to do, rather than genre hop, a trap many modern bands fell into. The latter is akin to eating each ingredient on its own, rather than the final concoction. Britton himself would take a similar approach on his next two progressive rock ventures Birds & Buildings and Deluge Grandeur.
So if you see this CD, and what I say above resonates with you, then don't hesitate to buy it. One day, years from now, it will disappear due to a new demand, then get expensive, and many will start settling for cheap downloads, and write crap reviews due to the "sound quality of the recording". Mark my words on that one.