Cerebral Fix’s Bastards (1991) is the coolest metal album. It conjures up two epic words which begin with M but end with T and H. The first word is MAMMOTH, whereas the second is MONOLITH. It’s the U.K. equivalent to Metallica’s 1991 album (thus the bold lettering) except it’s underground in terms of style and exposure (the title didn’t exactly further their cause). Nevertheless, Bastards is a testament to the meatier sound of analogue versus the meeker sound of digital. To describe Bastards to those who haven’t heard it reminds me of that saying about describing colours to a blind person. I will use familiar reference points to describe their music, so my comparative descriptions shouldn’t be taken literally (i.e. I’m not claiming that they’re plagiarizing or inspired by specific bands).
The title track has the foreboding acoustic intros of Metallica’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th albums. The rest of the song has the same epic vibe of Metallica’s 2nd and 3rd albums. By epic vibe, I mean that it sounds vigourous yet valiant – partly due to the echoing atmosphere that comes with reverb. Another way of describing the title track is that it’s like what if Iron Maiden were actually heavy instead of a harder and more technical version of Marillion. The guitar solo is reminiscent of what Kirk Hammett would do in the ’90s.
Descent into the Unconsciousness has an Iron Maiden intro, an Anthrax verse, an Iron Maiden chorus, a Megadeth segue and a Crowbar bridge. It’s one of the more balanced songs.
Veil of Tears has a Black Flag verse, Vio-lence choruses, a Black Sabbath bridge, a Nuclear Assault segue and Kirk Hammett solos. Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman (R.I.P.) would’ve loved the evilness of the riffing. This is metalcore before metalcore was resurrected, named and popularized – like how the Monsters of Rock festival came to an end before being christened as Download.
Beyond Jerusalem is a Crowbar song with a harmony guitar solo worthy of Queen and Thin Lizzy.
Return to Infinity has a Judas Priest intro, a Megadeth verse, a Megadeth chorus, an Iron Maiden segue, an Eyehategod bridge and an Anthrax solo before suddenly concluding with a Slayer ending. This is definitely the most-well rounded song on the album. I can imagine it would be the favourite song of many devout metalheads.
Sphereborn is my favourite song from the album. It’s pretty much a Pantera song in the post-1990 sense. It has a simplified swagger which is reminiscent of Vulgar Display of Power as opposed to the technical wizardry of Cowboys from Hell. Genre-wise, it’s groove metal and sludge metal like Far Beyond Driven.
I Lost a Friend is a Judas Priest instrumental which starts off as an acoustic eulogy before adding an electric guitar harmony so that it becomes an electric memorial. Coincidentally, Epitaph was the name of a Judas Priest tour.
Ritual Abuse has a Megadeth intro, a Vio-lence verse, a Pantera chorus, a Death bridge, a Metallica solo and a Pantera finale.
Mammonite is like what if Metallica’s 4th album had the same production as their 5th album. The pace of the song summarizes the 4th album in terms of the medium and fast tempos. The slow finale is what Sad but True would’ve sounded like if it had a beefier sound. The riff that’s used for the majority of the song would be modified somewhat for the bridge riff in Bleeding Me (on Metallica’s Load).
Middle-Third (Mono-Culture) has a Corrosion of Conformity chug, a Megadeth bridge and a Pantera breakdown for a finale.
Maimed to Beg has an Exodus verse, a Black Sabbath bridge, a Testament solo, a Vio-lence finale and an Anthrax ending. This song makes the previous song seem anti-climatic because the title sounds like it’s potentially referencing the maniacal metalheads who demand encores. The vinyl’s flaw is that it didn’t have this like the CD does.
Cerebral Fix didn’t get mainstream exposure due to the title of the album. Due to the cover art, it would’ve been more artistically (and commercially) relevant for it to be named after one of the songs (Sphereborn). Because the cover depicts the circle of life (the back features a morbid interpretation), the album could have been titled Same Difference, Delayed Decay or Dying Since Birth (as a reference to Metallica’s The Four Horsemen). The bottom line is that this album has literal (and figurative) unsung songs.