Review: Speaking in Shadows – The Lies We Lead [EP]

A big welcome this week to Speaking in Shadows, formed back in 2010 in the depths of the Midlands (Nuneaton, in fact). Now releasing their new EP, The Lies We Lead, SIS have bashed and crafted together a mix of pop-punk melodies, with prominent alternative rock tunes while skirting on the boundaries of post-hardcore.

To kick off the EP, SIS deliver ‘Splinters’, an addictive and straight-up rock melody with powerful drumming and jagged guitar lines. You get great melodies, a bouncing rhythm and a deep, dark bass. The chorus is especially radio-ready in the dynamic opener. It’s odd to notice the whiney vocals on this track, reminiscent of Ian Watkins (if we’re allowed to speak his name with regards to music these days), but they only seem to sound so nasally on ‘Splinters’. This isn’t really a criticism, unless you really dislike that sort of singing, it’s just peculiar that it’s much more noticeable on this particular track.

Second up, ‘Technicolour Trainwreck’ has a similar energy, and comes out swinging with riffs and rhythms planting down a firm intro. There is a definite swagger to it and more of a pop-rock attitude, which only adds to the commercial sound the band seem capable of crafting – making it definite radio material with an anthemic chorus. The guitar work is pretty nifty here, controlling the pace and power of the song, while getting as catchy as the riffs get on the EP.

Then we get to ‘Misled Soldiers’… In terms of the song’s structure, it varies away from its predecessors, being more progressive, slowly constructing each element at a time. The track builds up an aura of darkness and the vocals even reach moments of unbridled anger, crashing into metalcore growls. Unfortunately, it’s not all good. ‘Mislead Soldiers’, an anti-war song, is lyrically poor. In fact, it’s not just poor; at times, it becomes pretty tasteless. In its anti-war sentiment, it is far too obvious and the track loses any power the instruments build up. It’s a rant for the sake of being a rant. Not clever, targeted, humorous or really hard-hitting. It has the same political worth as BFMV’s Scream, Aim, Fire. You know exactly what I mean. It may do well with the jaded teens who still think that ‘the man’ is out to get them, if they’re not too busy listening to Black Veil Brides, but when bands keep prattling on about how “‘we’ won’t accept ‘your’ lies”, it just becomes tiresome.

‘Breaking Silence’ rescues us from the depths of ‘Misled Soldiers’ with abrasive guitar riffs and full force intensity, which subsides to allow Smith to unveil the greatly improved narrative. It is predictable at times, but still different to those that went before despite the mass voiced chorus and feverish energy. ‘Moths’ goes even further away from the rest of the EP with the standard once-in-an-EP slowed drown track. I’m not being disparaging though, I was actually pleasantly surprised by SIS’s acoustic delivery. Offering something that is yet again quite different from the rest of the release; it offers up more sensitivity until the abrupt drumming brings in an explosion of raw emotion. Bringing in the drums and riffs at the end works perfectly, helping to convey the sense of overflowing emotion, especially when it’s juxtaposed against the tender acoustics up until their introduction.

Finally title track ‘The Lies We Lead’ finishes off the EP, but I’m not entirely convinced I like the way it does it. It sounds as though the band were going for a feel-good, uplifting summer song, but it sounds misjudged, too obvious and far too cringey for me. At times the lyrics get more creepy than catchy “Take off your clothes and be who you wanna be tonight”, which is a disappointing end to a mixed but impressive collection of tracks. I say ‘collection’ because all six songs are clearly crafted to stand on their own, musically and lyrically, as if each was considered to be a single, quite the way EPs seem to be going at the moment. It gives us a good indication of what SIS are capable of, a great smattering of talent from all areas, but leaves me hoping that above all, they graft the tracks together with more well thought-out lyrics in the future. If an album release is around the corner, it will be interesting to see how the variety of sounds and obvious potential is blended into a consistent whole.

3 out of 5 high fives!

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