Review by Omni: Cerebus was formed in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1984. After recording some demos, the band was contacted by New Renaissance Records and asked to contribute a song to a compilation entitled Satan’s Revenge in 1985. Although the goal of the compilation was to retaliate against the PMRC by promoting overtly Satanic music, the band’s contribution of “Fight the Beast” was actually a statement against the dangers of Satanism. The song wound up being quite popular, and the band was able to secure a deal to record a full-length album. Recorded with a lineup comprised of vocalist Scott Board, guitarists Andy Huffine and Chris Pennell, bassist Eric Burgess and drummer Joby Barker, Too Late to Pray was released in 1986.
Informed by early 1980s NWOBHM, thrash and speed metal, the sound of Cerebus is best described as aggressive 1980s power metal. Huffine and Pennell are the stars of the show, pulling off some explosively energetic guitar work throughout the album. The excellent lead work, heavy riffs and blistering solos are a constant delight throughout the album. Board’s vocals are equally ferocious and elegant, with some extremely memorable vocal melodies in every track. Burgess and Parker manage to hold everyone else together, with the drumming being particularly tasteful. While Cerebus isn’t afraid to pay tribute to their influences, there isn’t really much that the band can actually be compared to. In many ways, this album almost sounds like an American answer to Court in the Act.
While every track on this album is excellent, the tense drama of the title track is perhaps the band’s finest hour. “Distant Eyes” and “Longing for Home” are also excellent examples of the band’s versatility, showing how to create ballads that don’t let up on the heavy metal. The addition of the songs recorded for the 1987 …Like a Banshee on the Loose EP is a welcome treat as well, as these songs are similarly excellent to the album tracks. The bonus material is also rounded out by the inclusion of “Fight the Beast” from the 1985 Satan’s Revenge compilation, a great song that is reminiscent of Mercyful Fate’s more straightforward numbers circa Don’t Break the Oath. Fans of NWOBHM and U.S. power metal from the 1980s should seek out this reissue on Heaven and Hell Records. Order HERE .
My rating: 90/100 (Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan)