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Cerberus Shoal


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Cerberus Shoal Cerberus Shoal  album cover
3.49 | 15 ratings | 2 reviews | 7% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1 Rain (2:44)
2 Daddy as Seen from Bar Harbor (11:25)
3 Elena (4:56)
4 Change (7:31)
5 Breakaway Cable Terminal (6:23)
6 Rain (39:12)

Line-up / Musicians

Tom Rogers/ Drums, Group Member
Caleb Mulkerin/ Guitar, Group Member, Remixing, Remastering, Vocals
Chriss Sutherland/ Bass, Vocals, Remixing, Group Member, Remastering
Josh Ogden/ guitar

Releases information

Stella White Records 1995 Vinyl
Reissue North East Indie 2004 CD

Thanks to black velvet for the addition
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CERBERUS SHOAL Cerberus Shoal ratings distribution

(15 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(53%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

CERBERUS SHOAL Cerberus Shoal reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars This was Cerberus Shoal’s first album, released in the mid-90s as a 12 inch vinyl on their own Stella White label. You won’t likely find that one anywhere since there were only 1,000 pressed, but the remastered CD version from North East Indie is pretty easy to locate; I got mine for $5 USD used off Amazon. Like most of their first half-dozen albums, this one is steeped in a post-rock sound of plodding arrangements, barely intelligible spoken-word vocals, drone and the occasional crashing crescendo. The roots however seem to be more post-punk grunge ala the Afghan Whigs, Babes in Toyland and maybe even a little earlier stuff like Bauhaus or even a little Gun Club. I feel like I heard a thousand bands that sounded like the hard stuff on this album back in the latter 80s and early 90s, but honestly I can’t remember a whole lot of them now and all that stuff is on cassette dry-rotting in my attic today so I can’t really be bothered to crawl up there and root through it to come up with any of the names.

The difference here of course is the melding of cerebral post-rock and electronic drone with the grungier stuff – none of the bands mentioned above did anything like that (except maybe Bauhaus a little, but I really never got into them much back in the day). Also, Cerberus Shoal made a habit of regularly reinventing themselves through endless experimentation and collaboration in their ten-plus years, so this album isn’t any more representative of their ‘sound’ than anything else they recorded. Listening to a Cerberus Shoal album is more about trying to understand their trip than it is about discovering (or necessarily even enjoying) their music.

That said, I was surprised to find that this quickly became one of my favorite of their albums once I finally picked it up a while back. It’s kind of funny really – I love this (their first) and ‘The Land We All Believe In’ (their last) most of all, even though the two records have as diametrically opposing sounds as you’d think is possible from the same band. While the latter is heavily inspired by American folk and late-90s Mile End music, this one seems to owe a debt to Kurt Cobain and Slint as much as it does to Efrim Menuck or Mike Moya. The blend of sounds is both intriguing and at times baffling, but like the best art it definitely inspires thought and conjecture.

The highlight of the album is the lengthy and sonically brilliant “Daddy as Seen from Bar Harbor” with its thundering guitar forays and unrestrained feedback creeping out sporadically amid plodding drums and several band members offering conversational dialog in the background. I’m not sure what the point of the lyrics are, and don’t really care – the mood is what’s important here and not the message. I’ve played this one sitting in an airport people-watching, and get the same vibe as I do from playing f#a# ∞ in the same setting. A real trip for sure.

The remastered version includes a 39 minute rendition of “Rain”, which isn’t really related to the brief opening track “Rain” as near as I can tell. Instead, this one starts off with some laid-back guitar and quiet vocals before exploding into shouted singing and grunge-like guitar distortion, only to fade to almost silence before repeating the cycle several times with slightly different riffs and tempos. While I think this was included on the CD more as filler than anything else it does give a glimpse into the creative process of the band and foreshadows a lot of the music they would release late in the decade.

The other three tracks are more of the same really, with only “Breakway Cable Terminal” standing out for its extended jamming vocal/guitar dirge that would have been right at home in many clubs circa 1992 or so. I get the impression these guys had plenty of ideas and creative talent, but no real sense of where to take it. The raw energy combined with clear evidence of musical talent is palpable. Their later album ‘Homb’, while more restrained, gives off some of the same force and would be a great lead-in to this album for anyone wishing to explore the band’s music.

I may be a little generous here, but for the time being this CD is still getting a fair amount of play on my Blackberry so I’m giving it four stars for being able to keep my attention for several months despite a number of other discs landing in my lap during that time. I may tire of it after a while, but four sounds right for now so that’s what I’ll go with. Recommended for anyone who got into grunge and then outgrew it, but would enjoy that same rush but with music played by seriously talented musicians. Enjoy.


Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cerberus Shoal ia a RIO/Avant Prog collective that has been around since 1994 (forming in Boston) and has released 14 albums up until 2010. Their lineup has changed a lot, which is why they consider themselves a collective. Their self-titled, debut album consisted of Caleb Mulkerin (guitar, vocals) who relocated from Portland, Chris Sutherland (bass, vocals), Thomas Roger (drums) and Josh Ogden (guitar). The album was also reissued on CD in 2004. This album actually has a more post rock feel to it with the use of dynamics and twin guitar riffs, and the building of themes through repetition and intensity, but in the case of Cerberus Shoal, the intensity changes are usually quite quick.

The album begins with the first track titled 'Rain' on the album. It is a mostly easy going track with a moderate tempo which suddenly gets quite intense when the dual guitar riff comes in after 1 minute. Everything calms again a minute later as we are left with just the bass finishing off the short track. 'Daddy as Seen from Bar Harbor' begins heavy, cools off after a minute as subdued spoken vocals come in surrounded by a heavy beat and strong bass with a start/stop pattern on a tricky meter. Just before the 5 minute mark, everything gets suddenly louder when full guitar power kicks in. At 8 minutes, the music quiets down with the introduction of a smoother rhythm and a more melodic vocal, that still remains somewhat subdued while the spoken vocals continue further in the background. A quick crescendo just before 10 minutes cranks up the intensity immensely as the melodic vocal turns to shouting.

'Elena' is a softer track with a steady mid-tempo beat and more of the spoken word vocals mixed in at a lower volume. 'Change' is more dynamic with a soft, almost minimal beginning that interchange with louder sections, vocals still mixed down low that are more spoken than sung, but become close to screaming on the louder sections. 'Breakaway Cable Terminal' continues with the same dynamic soft to loud feel, but in a less formulaic way and with a more melodic vocal at times, but with screaming on the louder sections.

The second track titled 'Rain' comes next, and is hard to tell what the tie in to the first track is, but it continues with the soft / intense pattern as before and the soft spoken word and screaming vocals. The track listing above shows that this track is 39 minutes, and this has caused some confusion as it is actually just over 5 minutes. There is then a bit over 4 minutes of silence before an untitled track begins. A bass line repeats while percussion and a drone play which is joined by a melodic guitar later. Everything intensifies quickly for a while and the pattern repeats with differing feedback drones. This pattern just repeats for the rest of the 29 minute track with some variation in the instruments, but no variation in the rhythm or bass line.

The sound of this album starts out well enough, but after the first two tracks, the loud and soft pattern tends to grow old and there is very little change in the vocals or sound from one track to the other. Even though there were a lot of strong reviews with this album, I don't see what the draw is to it since there really isn't much change in the sound. Yes, it was early in the days of post rock, but even then there were better bands and albums out there. There were times when the band were much better, so I guess we can give some slack to them since it was their first album, but this debut album just doesn't expand on the basic sound enough.

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