ALBUM REVIEW: Wide Eyed Coma

ALBUM REVIEW: Wide Eyed Coma

Something that sort of irks me about music is the sheer number of bands and artists out there.

No, I’m not mad that people really enjoy music and are passionate enough to start a band or go it alone, I’m mad that are simply so many bands and artists out there that I would have to have the lifespan of a Sierra Redwood (a tree that lives about 800-1,500 years) to experience it all.

Even singling it down to one genre, I could be kept busy for years.

Now, I’m not saying that the majority of those bands and artists are good in any way, shape or form, but that reasoning is why I always keep my ear to the ground when it comes to new music. I’m always open to listening to something as long as it falls into my preferred genre.

Most of the time I fish garbage out of that metaphorical ocean, but every now and then a sparkle catches my eye and I dive in.

So with that, I bring you the hidden gem that is Signs of Betrayal, with their sophomore album Wide Eyed Coma.

Self-described Hard Rock band known locally around the Phoenix area, Signs of Betrayal worked hard to make a name for themselves in the Arizona music scene, releasing their first album in 2005, subsequent albums in 2006 and 2007, an EP in 2010 and their “final” album in 2014.

I put “final” in quotations because the band teases their return on their social media every now and then.

There isn’t much else to say for background, so let’s get right into it.

Starting with the presentation, this album stands right out!

The cover depicts a dark, decrepit, out of focus hospital room with the only object in focus being the messy bed. On the back we have the song list over a hallway and a woman wearing angel wings, her back turned toward the camera.

And what’s cool about the song list is that it isn’t listed normally, like:

“1. My Song to You

  1. To Remember”

Instead, it’s listed in binary code. So it looks like:

“0001. My Song to You

  1. To Remember”

That’s awesome.

On the jewel case, one side is black and the opposite side is white. On the inside we are given the definition of “Coma,” found underneath the CD itself.

It all exudes style, and something that’s different and stands out is always appreciated.

Of course, you may be saying “Well, sounds like they’re trying too hard to be different.”

And you know what I’ll say to that?

I’ll say that this is my review, so if I think it’s cool, then it’s cool.

Moving on, the album starts off with “My Song to You” which is hands-down the best song on the album. Normally, having the album opener be the best song is a problem, but not here; the majority of the songs are just as good as this one.

The first time I heard this song, I was blown away by just about everything, but what immediately caught my attention are the lyrics.

They’re so open.

They’re personal, engaging, concrete… they pulled me in immediately, and they still do.

As soon as I heard the opening lines of the chorus, I knew that I was going to love this band.

“This is my life guarded and weak.”

And I have to give credit to the vocalist, Dave Williams, he has one of those voices that are just perfect for this type of music — deep and powerful, it commands attention.

In regards to the instrumentation — and I’ve used this word before — the instrumentation is tight.

And by that, I mean it screams professional. The instruments sync right up with each other so perfectly, ugh, it’s wonderful!

Signs of Betrayal are definitely rhythm-centric, so their songs are filled with chords, palm-mutes and the like, with a few riffs here and there. Their lead guitarist does play melodies and things like that, but don’t expect any “shredding at 1,000 beats-per-minute” type solos.

And the bass work, if you’ve read any of my other album reviews, you know how much I love it when the bassist is allowed free-reign, and Signs of Betrayal do not disappoint.

I don’t think I’d be too off the mark to say that Steve Blodgett is the lead bassist, because the bass is just as distinct as the guitars, drums and vocals.

I don’t know who mixed the album, but they definitely know what they’re doing. The instruments come down like a wall — thick and loud, but in the best of ways.

You can hear the bass act as the bed, while the rhythm and lead guitars lie on top of it, building off of each other to create some truly awesome sounds. It all packs quite a punch too, considering they use seven-string guitars and five-string basses.

But I guess true credit goes the musicians themselves, because I’ve heard very few bands like this that have such on-point rhythm.

And all of what I just said goes for every song. Wherever Williams is expressing his emotions, the rest of the group is backing him up with instrumentation that is just as emotional as the lyrics.

It’s top-notch. It’s quality.

I almost forgot, they also have a keyboardist (at least on this album), so they can create some atmospheric sounds that bands without one wouldn’t be able to achieve. It’s mostly heard setting up the intros to the songs, but it’s sprinkled in here and there throughout the entirety of the catalog.

As far as criticism goes, I really don’t have a lot, save for a few things.

One, there is a bit of a slump after song seven — “Leave This Behind,” but that’s not because the three songs that come after it are bad, it’s just that they’re the least interesting in my opinion.

The beginning of the album gives us really personal and “real” songs like “My Song to You,” or “To Remember,” and at the end we have the blandly-titled “Addiction” or “Watching Silently,” which aren’t bad songs, they just don’t strike me as musically or lyrically interesting.

Once you get to that point of the album, you’re on a downhill ride… albeit a downhill ride on a very slight incline. At least the album caps it off with an acoustic rendition of “In This Skin” which is a nice little bonus.

And as I mentioned before, the lead guitar doesn’t have much presence. It’s there, don’t get me wrong, but its parts aren’t terribly memorable. Like I said, the strength is in the rhythm.

All that being said, Wide Eyed Coma is a solid album filled to the brim with strong instrumentation and lyrics that come together to give the album a dark, but satisfying sound.

Final Rating: A-

I know my review probably reads more like an “A,” but it just has those few dings and dents that keep it from being a solid “A.”

Anyway, if you’re into heavy Hard Rock/Alt. Metal type music, I would definitely give Signs of Betrayal the time of day, whether it’s this album or another of theirs, it all has my official stamp of approval.

The fact that they never got past the “local” status only fuels my conviction that somewhere out there is a group of industry suits that decide which music is going to be popular and which isn’t, because for a band so talented to still be so unknown… it’s criminal.