For Fans Of
Well, the chaotic cat came out of the hardcore bag last week. If you saw those #everyonelovestheliar social media posts floating around over the past month – y’know, that pic of a dastardly unclean kitchen in dire need of a renovation and some multi-purpose Earth Choice spray, with the words ‘LIAR’ written in red on the wall – then know it was all for this new She Cries Wolf album.
Third LP, ‘Liar‘ – surprise released one day after their five-year celebration as a band on 2/22/19 – is undoubtedly the heaviest and darkest body of work to come from the frenzied hands of this Cold Coast quartet. In short, it’s a fuckin’ angry record. For real, these guys sound pissed! It’s a hellish listen, one that licks deep personal wounds with the flames of angular chugs and dissonant riffs from Daniel Belic, Luke Harriss’s incendiary screams laying waste to all before it and super-charged percussion courtesy of drummer Luke Gallows. Again, She Cries Wolf have never sounded as heavy, as dark, as angry, nor as confrontational as they do here with the cut-throat prose of ‘Liar‘. Which is really saying something given how strong and unflinching the sights and sounds of ‘Divorce‘ (2014) and ‘Doubt‘ (2016) were.
At it’s bleak core, ‘Liar‘ isn’t just about the lies and the bullshit that other people feed us with, it’s also about self-deception; the lies that we tell ourselves to feel better or to just get by. It’s an album deeply concerned with flaws and imperfection; meaningless sex and genuine love; character assassination and the importance of image; living under family whose expectations you’ll never live up to; dealing with the devastation that only your own flesh and blood can slam you with; and grappling with mental health and intimacy in all their many forms. In some way, this is almost like the third arc of what began on their first two albums; fittingly following on from the heavy themes that said previous full-lengths addressed. Yet like the best movie trilogies, it’s the third part that goes in damned hard, seemingly wrapping up things in a concise manner. Which is what these Queensland lads mostly succeed at here with ‘Liar‘.
Lyrically speaking, this is the most honest, bitter and engaging record SCW have ever penned, with Luke’s lyricism rarely holding back about what he truly feels about the people in his life who have fuelled the good and the bad of this record’s context. The way he delivers his thoughts here is characteristically She Cries Wolf – in your face and extreme. His harsh words, backed up by violent screaming, paint tragic scenes addressing conflicts between himself and his parents; varying undertones of regret, self-hatred, and personal loss; feeling the pain of other issues happening to his partner or perhaps another loved one; and how relationships can have their trust destroyed or eroded over time. (I mean, there’s a song called ‘Maternally Malignant‘. This record ain’t hiding from it’s themes.) Luke shares so much here, that it’s all not only noble in this forth-coming nature, but his biting words lend another edge to the already sharp hardcore blade that is this band’s music. ‘Liar‘ is absolutely a record you’ll want to read the lyrics to.
Other than the lyrics channelling the rage of this LP, there’s many killer moments scattered throughout that do just that; showing why She Cries Wolf have carved out such a strong name for themselves within the Australian heavy music scene. After some obscured, distorted spoken word beginning the record – “Through the divorce and the doubt, one realisation remains/Either one of us was a liar, or maybe we were both lying to each other and ourselves” – ‘Burn‘ suddenly erupts like a nuke as the band stoke a huge stop-start instrumental fire as Luke delivers a volatile vocal performance. Fiery, indeed.
The groovy and riffy turns of the vicious call-out of integrity and defamation that is ‘Victim Complex‘ make for an equally discordant and head-banging affair. This song is also a great example of the band thinking harder about the chords and tones used to create darker-sounding music in order to capture the correct moods – spite, desperation, regret, and scathing honestly – for this album. The savage, short-lived blast-beats and striking instrumental crashes on the ferocious ‘Love Trader‘ make for some truly arresting moments. Even slipping in some string flourishes towards the end, it’s since become one of my favourite SCW songs overall. Then there’s the whispers and ominous, tremolo-laden outro of the Gallows-esque and self-deprecating hardcore punk tune, ‘October ’16‘. Curiously, that title is the release date of ‘Doubt‘, so it makes me wonder if Luke and the band now harbour reserved feelings towards certain things addressed on that record, or perhaps personal things occurring around the same time as it’s release. Things that maybe now inform the lyrical content of ‘Liar‘, but I digress.
Internationals like Every Time I Die and fellow Aussies like Bare Bones often get lumped in when talking about bands like She Cries Wolf, but with good reason. The rollicking yet still brooding ‘After Death‘ fits that sonic mould, but it does so very well. The track nails the balance between the more ambitious, upheaval style of the album but also their hardcore roots. Plus, it’s explosive rhythms and brutal double kick work are a shock to the system, but a great one at that. Then there’s those seismic breakdowns during ‘Pine‘, which are just stupidly heavy, even as the band tastefully weave in more melodic moments to really prick up the hair on the back of your neck. The album’s last two songs, the bitter ‘Moments (After Death Pt. II)‘ and closer ‘Exodus‘, showcase She Cries Wolf at a blood-thirsty peak. ‘Moments‘ nicely captures this newer, darker, depressed mood than most other SCW songs tend to, but then unravels these threads with weapons-grade breakdowns and upending hardcore sections. The end of ‘Exodus‘ sounds like a full-blown emotional rapture, with hard-hitting rhythms and high octave guitars drifting behind a thick and impenetrable metalcore wall. It’s easily one of the most indomitable and imposing cuts of their entire discography. Only the faint of heart won’t come back to these belters.
She Cries Wolf also expand upon their normal instrumental foundations here. In this sense, they’re now using modulated spoken word parts throughout to draw you in, like what opens the record or the distorted vocal passage that bridge ‘Victim Complex‘ and ‘After Death‘. As well as the heavier use of samples, they’re also highlighting these songs with more melodic backing elements, with brief inclusions of strings, pianos and so on. These are all great little additions to their sound, integrating nicely into their chaotic hardcore sound and not feeling out of place or distracting from the overall compositions. It’s also a really well-sequenced record. For instance, ‘October ’16th‘ glides right over into ‘Victim Complex‘ without missing a beat, and ‘After Death‘ jumps up to the start of ‘Genesis Flood‘ smoothly. There’s just a great flow to this album that suitably adds to it’s brutal, walls-enclosing vibe. However, I do find it odd that their wicked 2018 single, ‘Cultist‘, isn’t here. Given that it deals with very similar lyrical themes of inter-woven family woes, and is also just a fucking sick track well, it’s exclusion from this LP is bizarre. Not really a criticism, just a mere observation.
For how powerful ‘Liar‘ is, it’s sorely let down by the inclusion of various cleanly sung sections across it’s 11 songs. The first big bar-miss arrives very early into the album’s run-time: second track, ‘Magdalene‘. Here, Ahren Stringer of Amity Affliction fame guest features during the song’s bridge. Yet, his double-tracked, seemingly pitch-corrected clean singing just really doesn’t gel with the raw, crazed hardcore sounds that She Cries Wolf command so well. Despite how short-lived Ahren’s part is, it still just feels out of place, both in terms of what happened before that particular section started and then what follows. Thus marring what is technically the first proper song of the record. Definitely not the greatest of starts.
The same applies to the horribly forced “chorus” during ‘Genesis Flood‘. This particular refrain should’ve absolutely been work-shopped further before getting tracked and included in the final mix. Firstly, it’s just a poor and unpleasant hook, and secondly, it’s just not at all memorable. Now, I do see what the band was aiming for: using a lighter, more melodic section to contrast the booming, super heavier sections that are sandwiched between it. Yet, for all of the good it does, this part just holds ‘Genesis Flood‘ back. For a record with such a personally harrowing tone and such a (fittingly) suffocating atmosphere surrounding it, sub-par clean parts like this chorus jarringly pull me right out of the experience SCW have been trying so hard to cultivate. I’m not saying the absence of these parts would suddenly make this a perfect album or bump my rating up to the high 90’s. I’m just saying that ‘Liar‘ would simply benefit more without them.
The reason I’m harping on these singing sections so much is because SCW completely nail one such moment on another song. A moment where the clean vocal inclusions actually worked to the betterment of the overall track. In this case, I’m of course talking about album-standout, ‘Pine‘. Here, the singing fills out a supportive role; moving off in the background instead of in the foreground. Thereby adding a solid new layer to the track’s dynamics as melancholic guitars fire-off everywhere as Luke delivers what is one of his most intensive vocal performances; one where he’s forgoing technique and reaching higher into his upper register screams for an insanely gripping effect. This marriage of different sounds and tones widens the scope of the track itself, and makes everything feel and sound more weighty; feeding back into the rawness and emotion of the lyrics: “I felt her loss pass right through me, the pain of his suffering soon followed“. Something also noticeable in the vocal arrangements of ‘Love Trader‘, using pitched-screams as supportive elements to add, rather than subtract, from the song’s larger impact. Yet I cannot say the same with regards to ‘Magdalene‘ and ‘Genesis Flood‘.
She Cries Wolf haven’t sounded this malevolent, this bleak, nor this aggressive, and the proof is really in the pudding of how well that’s paid off for them. Huge songs like ‘Love Trader’, ‘Moments’, ‘Exodus’ and ‘Pine’ are some of their heaviest and greatest songs yet, and they bolster ‘Liar’ with such a palpable atmosphere. Yet for all of the solid musical elements that are well-expanded upon – the use of strings, samples, interesting vocal modulations, etc. – the inclusion of some clean vocals, except for ‘Pine’, just don’t work, holding back their respective songs (‘Genesis Flood’, ‘Magdalene’.) There’s also some songs, that while have a large emotional and lyrical appeal to me, like ‘Maternally Malignant’, they just aren’t songs that I’ll come back to much. Not when better iterations of that sound can be found on this very record. While it’s not fully stellar all the way through, She Cries Wolf’s talents and strengths here outweigh any wayward decision made on LP number three.
- Love Trader
- October ’16
- Victim Complex
- After Death
- Genesis Flood
- Maternally Malignant
- Moments (After Death Pt. II)
‘Liar’ is out now!