Cortex Complex is a UK, Brighton based Sci-Fi Progressive Rock virtual band created by P. Chrys with the assistance of various session musicians. Their virtual bio reads as follows: “It’s the year 2177. The world has succumbed to highly evolved artificial intelligence and it’s nearing extinction. Humanity has been using this highly evolved A.I. as slaves until a rogue group of machines under the leadership of the “Glass Mind” fought and won against the human governments. Two malfunctioned humanoids developed love and admiration for humanity and decided to travel back to the year 2015 to warn humanity, through music, of its fate. Their aim is to protect the future of humanity and create a world where man and machine can live together in perfect harmony.” The Cortex Complex saga continues with their latest release – the 8 track album, “Memoirs of an Apocalypse”. Armed with perhaps the most talented collection of vocalists in the underground progressive area, the album is not only the newest installment from this multi-talented artist, but also represents a perfect amalgamation of everything Cortex Complex has professed to this point in time, musically, artistically and conceptually.
Musically, these songs are aggressive, guitar-driven and futuristic with heavy guitars and synths, yet at times they are gentler, more meandering, in search of profundity. The progressive elements are here – and there are even some modern metal elements – but this is a concept album to the core. As good as everything Cortex Complex has been from a vocal and musical standpoint up to this point in time, “Memoirs of an Apocalypse” adds an element of maturity to P. Chrys’ catalog.
It is not easy to make sci-fi type musical narratives come to life without cheesiness creeping in, yet Cortex Complex nailed it. Not only is the sheer talent of the individuals performers evident, but the way the voices are utilized exceeds all expectations.
Not only are the vocal and instrumental performances great, the aggrandized arrangements really bring an uplifting and inspirational quality to this music. When talking about Cortex Complex, an entire review could just be devoted to talking about the singers – male and female, but P. Chrys’ blend of progressive rock, metal, baroque and electronics over the course of the album’s run-time stands out thoroughly.
The concept is as bombastic as ever and its tropes are properly secured, though the emphasis on the project’s heavier side, with bone-crushing guitar riffs and emblematically fiery solos. Right from the opening track, “Return”, the guitar work and overall dynamics provide an excellent example of hard progressive rock and metal.
If you like the incredible opener, you are going to love the entire record, which is a serious candidate for the rock album of the year in my book. “Memoirs of an Apocalypse” is generally superb as far as instrumentation goes. The introduction is catchy and atmospheric, establishing a tone of mystery which is both embraced and debunked throughout the album.
The guitars vary from heavy and ripping to lightning fast. The songs in here have actual variety, with beats and rhythms, and interesting instrumental working and all of that high-class stuff that makes an album actually interesting to listen to.
You can move from the melodic rock complexity of “Flaming Earth” to the fusion airiness of “Progeny”, the syncopated electronics of “Neocortex”, and the progressive crushing metal of “Code Red”. In between, you’ll find a whole lot more that will interest you.
From the instrumental work and performances of the singers over the lyrics and story line to the production and design of the cover artwork, “Memoirs of an Apocalypse” is fully convincing. The entire record is built around elaborate writing and dynamic performances; a bombardment on the senses. As it stands, it’s one that shows the project’s sound meticulously crafted to the tee.
Everything fits snugly together, and there’s a real sense of confidence exuding from under the hood. Cortex Complex has risen to the challenge of this album, and show no signs of backing down soon. If this is the standard that the project holds itself to right now, it’s astonishing to ponder where Cortex Complex will be going in the future.