CEREBUS EFFECT - Acts Of Deception

Cerebus Effect - Acts Of Deception

11 songs
53:32 minutes
***** *****


So they may not look very glamorous on the promo picture, and they also misspelled the name of the three-headed hound from Greek mythology in their bandname, but these little faults shouldn't take the focus from Cerebus Effect's third album, a true masterpiece of progressive fusion music. Coming from a small town in the small state Maryland, on the US East Coast, Cerebus Effect may be far away from the cultural epicentres like New York and Chicago, yet their third album Acts Of Deception testifies that you don't need to be close to big agglomerations to create true art.

The nearly instrumental album starts with the seven minute long Y, a fusion rock tour de force that incorporates jazzy guitar lines backed by a crazy rhythm section, emphasised especially by the bass guitar that does a lot of soloing throughout the song. The keyboards alternate between discreet sound carpets and Seventies inspired electric piano sounds with the right degree of nervousness. The following Identity Crisis, one of only two vocal pieces, has a more hectic pace, underlined by the incredibly fast and monotonous vocals that underline the stress in the song. It is here where we first notice a certain Zeuhl affinity, with a staccato rhythm not uncommon from the movement's originators Magma. A short group improvisation brings us the equally complicated Illusions that proves that you can play crazy prog fusion rock in under four minutes. Of Mortal Constraints takes the heat out of the moment, leaving us suspended again in a more laid back jazzy feeling. This is just the calm before the storm, the album's magnum opus Operation Midnight Climax, the other vocal song, that clocks in at over eleven minutes, that shows the band from its most diverse side. Nine Against Ten continues the album in an instrumental fashion, combining military rhythm attacks with the band's smoother mid-Seventies Canterbury prog side. Another group improvisation and a percussive solo number lead into the melancholic Unconsoled, before the genial W ends the album with another highlight.

It took me many listening sessions before I had the courage to write a review, so full of details is this masterpiece. The short numbers sometimes don't offer the diversity you find on the CD's longer pieces, and the production of this self-released album also sometimes sounds as if the songs were recorded in the muddy Seventies, but the joyful playing and the technical prowess of all involved makes Acts Of Deception one of the most remarkable albums of the year. Cerebus Effect sound like a tag team wrestling match of Hatfield and the North and National Health versus Magma and Univers Zero. A sometimes surpisingly aggressive rock attitude makes Acts Of Deception much more than just a retro trip, but a true insight into the minds of four extremely gifted artists. Certainly nothing for those who like their music easy, Cerebus Effect are a perfect treat for friends of powerful progressive fusion rock.

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