Album Review: "Liar's Intuition" (2021) by Signals of Bedlam
Reigning from the heart of The New York City, one of the most authentic acts of the modern New York music scene Signals of Bedlam opens the plug of their oppressions to sprinkle all the genres that they crossed. Open-mindedness and experimentalism of progressive rock, uplifting and rebellious energy of punk, blasphemy of metal, and will of vocalist Cero Cartera, bassist Chika Obiora, guitarist Tom Hoy, and drummer Rich Abidor combine with the great veteran producer Frank Mitaritonna (The Dear Hunter, The Dillinger Escape Plan) to create one of most inspiring works of 2021. Liar's Intuition is a work of the saturity of rage and dedicated lyric writing—inspired by the current dystopian atmosphere of the world and their personal reflections on this atmosphere. However, with their sophomore work, Signals of Bedlam completely breaks through the conventions of traditional metal sound—taking a stance that is closer to the almighty ''Daughter''. Virtuosic instrumentation of Liar's Intuition explores intricate rhythmic games, modern prog-metal riffs, dissonant atmospheric motives, dirty production, noise rock, and a perfect production; but all are filtered through the expressive uplifting energy of the band for one purpose: expression of deception. Cartera explains: “This record was written in a time when truths that were once considered immutable, like equality and justice, suddenly came into question. On the surface, it looks like a natural result of opposing forces clashing, but when you peel back the layers, you start to see that this collective confusion, ‘the great confounding’, is the product of deliberate deception.” Don't miss the chance to hear what progressive music is to become, an early gem of 2021.
Cero Cartera / vocals, guitar
Tom Hoy / lead guitar
Chika Obiora / bass
Rich Abidor / drums
Frank Mitaritonna / producer
1. Twilight Rebel with Red Cap (04:26)
The album heads off to a strong start with its first song: Twilight Rebel with Red Cap’s first thirty seconds are filled with well-performed anger that is showcased by heavy, fast-paced guitar riffs and drumming, all accompanied by brutal vocals. The lyrics only add to this furious atmosphere, talking about “the self-entitled looking for their handouts”. As the song progresses, vocalist Cero Cartera’s performance of these lyrics becomes more and more impressive: the artist’s use of his voice during softer sections reminds the listener of MJ Keenan’s performances. Another impressive aspect of the song is the way it shifts its tone during the second minute: in this section, the band creates a dissonant atmosphere by layering several guitars which made psychedelic sounds using the tremolo bar. For a song with such assertive lyrics, the song definitely does a good job in communicating the emotions behind the concept of the album.
2. Pendulum in Swing (04:06)
The unorthodox way of dividing up beats into different subgroups is what makes Pendulum in Swing impressive. Although we could write a whole paragraph dedicated to the rhythm of the song, what especially strikes attention is the quintuplet swing that makes the audience feel as if they are “Battering the prison inside pendulum in swing.” The repetitive and intermittent guitar riffs in the song build tension throughout the first minute of the song (and the tension is definitely embellished by the symbolic and dark lyrics, which talk about how “Pandering, apathy, dark fantasy grows.” ) The tension is soon released via the vocals. This pattern continues throughout the song, and thanks to the rhythmic complexity that is present in both the drumming and the guitar riffs, Pendulum in Swing proves the band’s ability to create well-produced progressive music.
3. $&@ttention (03:01)
$&@ttention, or Money and Attention (as the lyrics repeat throughout the song) is one of the shorter songs of the album that stands out with its use of chorus and reverb. It’s nice to have a slower change of tone in the progression of the album after two rather harsh songs. The guitar progression and arpeggios combine perfectly with the soft vocals of Cero Cartera, as well as the slow 3/4 beat of the drums. Again, the band does a great job in doing a smooth transition to the faster and more angsty section of the song, and they limit this section to a minute to keep it from getting too repetitive. We think that Signals of Bedlam is one of the few who can create a new sound with each song.
4. Red Sunflower (06:07)
Red Sunflower's intro features 2 riffs that we never encounter in the song again. The verse riff that comes next is cleverly arranged in two different time signatures. The first one is in 13/4, arranged in 6+7+6+7. The second one is a much tenser 7/4, arranged in (2+2+3)+(3+2+2), signaling a breakdown. This clever subdivision play allows the band to alter some riffs at the end of a section to better transition into the next parts. I absolutely love how Signals of Bedlam approaches vocals. The vocal melody is treated like a complete story that flows through the music. Most prog bands try to find a recurring short vocal melody just to supplement the music. The vocal melody in Red Sunflower is the perfect example of a vocal melody actually adding to the music. At the 3rd minute, the constant sequence of high-tempo parts get hard to follow. The placement of the soft solo section coincides perfectly with the moment you think to yourself: "I love this, but I hope there isn't more, because my brain is going to explode." The solo could have been a bit softer, like Guthrie Govan's famous solo in "Drive Home," but this works just as well.
5. Phantom Pain (05:22)
Thrown straight into the action with a fast tempo guitar riff, you get a sense of what the band is trying to achieve as a whole. After just two repetitions, the band quickly shifts gears to a more compelling riff that sets the stage up for the vocals. The hasty and daring nature of just this opening is a clear indicator that metal isn't just about loudness for these guys. In the mixing room, there must have been extra care given for the drum sound as you can hear each hit to the snare throughout Rich Abidor's multitude of quick snare fills. The ambiguous feeling of some sections, coupled with the atmospheric reverb sounds, evokes the idea of "phantom pain" as you can't exactly pinpoint what it is that you are hearing and where it is coming from. The band could further experiment with this idea to make the experience as realistic as possible for the listener. 6. Badlands 01:59 This short instrumental track, rather an interlude of some kinds, finds its foundation in a simple guitar riff playing octave notes with a 3:2 polyrhythm to keep things interesting. The arcane feel of the track comes from the harmonic minor that is introduced early on in the riff. Combined with the atmospheric elements, which at this point the band seems to master, it creates the perfect suspense for the rest of the song. It is also worthwhile to note Abidor's dexterity while playing calmer section on the drums which shows a great deal of versatility for the whole band.
7. Sinister Sleight (04:40)
The intro might not seem like it, but Sinister Sleight is one of the album's more laid-back tracks, along with $&@ttention. Except for the screaming choruses, the riffs capture a groovy but soft feeling. The verses feature a muted guitar line stacked with choppy vocals. The composition is simple when analyzed separately, but a few choices, such as muting the guitars and reading lyrics in a staccato fashion, give the part much-needed momentum. The part at 2:50 is based on a great idea, and it's very enjoyable to listen to. However, the execution could have been much better in a few ways. Firstly, the part is too short to have any meaningful buildup. Secondly, the drum part is too hard to play, and perhaps this caused it to be a bit sloppily recorded. In groovy atmospheric sections like this one, the drums need to be completely locked into the beat, with all the notes and even dynamics. I think the band is great at making their choruses as powerful as possible. In each chorus, I felt the entire track run through my body. The first chorus, notably, sounds a lot like Haken records where the high-pitched vocals blend with the music to create, might I even say, a church-y divine vibe.
8. Take the Crown (04:33)
The song opens with a fierce rhythm that is intended to throw you off balance. Before you can pick yourself up, Cero Cartera's almost mind-controlling, fevered vocal performance once again catches you off guard. It is great to see the band expand on what is achievable in an overpopulated progressive metal scene. They are clearly experimenting with different styles and influences, which is an effective way for them to find their own sound. The vocals with the complex drumming remind the listener of Maynard James Keenan's extreme and trippy performance on Tool's "Rosetta Stoned". It is one of those songs where you genuinely wish you could headbang faster.
9. The Fire Below (05:36)
The closing track of the album represents all the values that the band stands for, both musically and lyrically. The dirty riff-driven moving 7/8 intro instantly sets the edgy mood for the song, where the tremolo-picked wah guitar extends the expression of the intro. In the verse section of the song, the guitar plays a very syncopated 6/4—which creates the basis for other instruments and upcoming choruses and verses. The Maj7 chord near the 2.30 resonates perfectly and creates the ultimate passing chord for the band's section changes. Style-wise, all of the parts can be heard as separate pieces of music, but with great composition and a great understanding of production, the band goes between parts seamlessly. These dynamic changes on guitars, drums, bass, and vocals create a perfect space for the band to experiment between emotional sections(such as the ethereal outro) and grungy passages—and the band executes this perfectly, creating an authentic and well-deserved closer for an inspiring album.