Cerebus hail from North Carolina and in the mid-1980s attained cult status in the US. Sadly, cult status usually equates to producing fabulous music unmatched by album sales.
After a couple of demos, the highlight of the band’s career came in 1986 with the release of the well-received Too Late to Pray, an album chock-full of classic metal with a hefty nod towards the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Twin guitars, powerful vocals, lengthy solos; it was the metal lover’s wet dream.
For reasons unknown, this was their only full-length release of original material as there followed two EPs (Like a….Banshee on the Loose and Regression Progression) and another demo.
Now, 31 years later, Heaven and Hell Records have released From Beyond the Vault Door.
As the title suggests this is a compilation of some fine Cerebus material, but this is not simply a collection culled from EPs and the album. What we have here is a selection of archived demo tracks put down between 1984 and 1988. These songs were never released and never heard outside the band.
From the crunching opening riff of “Long Time Comin’” it’s quality metal all the way which leaves you wondering “why weren’t Cerebus absolutely massive?” Mind you, that could be said of thousands of rock and metal acts.
Consisting of Eric Burgess on bass, Joby Parker on drums, Chris Pennell and Andy Huffine on guitars with Scott Board on vocals, Cerebus are a tight unit and From Beyond the Vault Door is not a rushed mishmash of dodgy crap-sounding tracks as many of these types of compilation are. These are proper songs, remastered, and could easily have fit onto the original releases.
There is only one track, “She Burns”, which has a version on Too Late To Pray, but the sound of it is quite atypical of the band. This song is very thrashy, in the vein of Anthrax, after a Motorhead-inspired opening.
Otherwise, it’s classic metal with Board providing the perfect vocal output for the genre. He can be smooth as silk, rough as a badger’s arse or wail like Rob Halford in his pomp. There’s also nothing like twin leads sharing a solo and Pennell and Huffine do a grand job of it.
From Beyond the Vault Door is a straight-up in-your-face metal album. You don’t have to be a Cerebus completist to appreciate this, just a fan of quality classic metal.