Prog. Punk. Rock. Sirens. Blast beats.
Signals of Bedlam formed in 2012 New York City by four members who brought with them the sounds, memories, and moods of the environments they grew up in; from the post-industrial interior, through the heat of the desert west, to the constant grind of the eastern mid-Atlantic. What drew Cero Cartera, Tom Hoy, Chika Obiora, and Rich Abidor together in New York City was, in the words of guitarist Hoy, an “affinity for noise”. You can hear this noise in the intricate, chest-vibrating progressive rock that they create. A sound that expertly rides the fine line between the wildly heavy and the tightly controlled.
In spite of the group’s shared affinities, their sound is truly forged in the blend of personalities, opinions, passions, and tastes that are present in each songwriting session. The band are committed to realizing each of their compositions in as close to a perfect version as possible. As such, their process is intensely collaborative; an approach that bassist Obiora acknowledges as “almost democratic to a fault”. Ideas are bought to the group and rebuilt over a process of months with each member weighing in. By the time that a song is ready for recording all that might remain from the original idea is a riff or short hook that the band latched onto and used as a foundation for something completely different.
2016’s Escaping Velocity was the group’s first official release and their first outing with producer Frank Mitaritonna, who’s been responsible for harnessing the fierce grit of bands including The Dear Hunter, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Glassjaw. The record swiftly established Signals Of Bedlam as an innovative force on the New York prog scene, with nods from Aquarian Weekly, who declared them “awesome…a diamond in the rough”, and Metal Trenches, who lauded the album as “ripe for prog worship”, and a five-star writeup from Skull N Bones.
Liar’s Intuition is the upcoming followup, due in early 2021. It’s a record that is in some ways a return to familiar territory (with the group reuniting with Mitaritonna) but in other ways a bold step forward into darker and moodier territory. Vocalist Cartera describes the record as a focus piece on deception. “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.” You can hear this atmosphere of mistrust and unsettlement reflected in the jagged shifts and starts within Hoy, Obiora, and Abidor’s interplay, in the bands’ collective building and dismantling of rage, and in Cartera’s seething poetic lyrics.
For a band so driven towards perfection, it’s little surprise that a four-year gap should fall between their album releases. Hoy explains, “the songwriting period for this record took at least a year of twice-weekly sessions between all of us.” He continues, “It truly is the first record that we can say we wrote fully collaboratively.” The reason for the welcome return of Mitaritonna’s guiding hand is explained by Hoy, who notes that the producer’s creative investment in his projects is the guiding light that draws the group back to him. “He’ll tell it like it is, he’ll want to know why each bit of the song is the way it is and if it’s the best way it can be. He’s really the last trusted line of creative control before we release something to the world.”
With this much care and craft at the forefront of Liar’s Intuition, fans can look forward to a record that truly showcases each member at their most highly-charged. Fingers remain crossed for a return to live music soon, but in the meantime, it’s safe to say that 2020 has given Signals Of Bedlam more than their fair share of furious inspiration.
Praise for Escaping Velocity:
“Signals of Bedlam? In a perfect universe, this band will become huge stars..Vocalist [Cero Cartera] is as talented and mesmerizing a singer as Maynard James Keenan. Guitarist [Tom Hoy] is the perfect foil for [Cartera], and the rhythm section of Rich Abidor on drums and bassist Chika Obiora are as adept at laying down lush, solid foundations as they are at explosive blast beats…My hand to God, there is not a single weak track on this record… And this is one of those times I’d love to give them a six out of five rating.” (5/5)
“Signals of Bedlam is definitely a band I’d like to see live. Who doesn’t love a thumping rhythm section with great vocals?…Trust me on this one!”
– The Aquarian Weekly
“Escaping Velocity is a beautiful album ripe for prog worship…the compositions are varied and, more importantly, strong enough to draw in fans from both the rock and metal camps. And with The Mars Volta gone, these guys seem capable of sliding right into that role.” (8.7/10)
– Metal Trenches