The Secret - Agnus Dei
Southern Lord
Blackened Grindcore
13 songs (43:34)
Release year: 2012
Southern Lord
Reviewed by Koeppe

Italy’s The Secret in many ways follow suit of the other bands on Southern Lord’s line-up that represent their new batch of gritty hardcore bands, which is becoming their trendy niche as opposed to the noisy drone that the label used to proffer. The Secret went on tour with the likes of Black Breath, Burning Love, Enabler, and Martyrdod this past summer; however, where I have written rave reviews of two of the aforementioned and enjoy the other two bands’ output, The Secret leave me cold in a not so good way. I’ll admit that when I went to the Southern Lord tour months back, I didn’t hang around during their set insofar as it was quickly off-putting in terms of feedback and not really standing out against the amazing bands with which they toured, but I truly wanted to give this album a chance given the company they keep.

The Secret’s blasting initially hits the listener like a storm, with obvious comparisons to Trap Them’s characteristic vibe being stripped of its punk energy and injected with a bit of darkness a la black metal. The track, Post Mortem Nihil Est, represents this agenda the most, reminiscent of Converge covering Dark Funeral perhaps. We have the standardized Kurt Ballou production that creates an oppressive wall of dissonance in contrast to the hardcore riffs that the aforementioned bands rely upon. That juxtaposition might be where the problem lies in this album, that insofar as this band is a part of this new trend, they just don’t stand out. Much of the production masks any nuances that they may or may not have. Marco Coslovich might have some intense vocals, but they are never a given chance to do anything besides be anguished; they never grab the listener where it counts.

The one track where the riff stands out is Vermin of Dust. A midtempo riff that you can’t help but bob your head to cements the song together without ever actually developing into a breakdown or solo oddly enough. Their blackened grindcore hybrid style is best captured in Darkness I Became where the blasts really build up the riff, before the quasi-atmospheric breakdown hits and does its job rather well. Heretic Temple captures them sounding like a snail’s pace Anaal Nathrakh in a way which creates a rather ominous atmosphere while being rather awkwardly in the middle of the album. I like sludgy interludes as much as the next guy, but they really have a lot of work to do besides simply taking the foot off the gas. Interludes, in order to be successful on these hardcore tracks, have to create the same tension promised throughout the album, minus the use of a fast riff, blasting snares or a breakdown. Instead, the guitar’s dissonance just lingers and the vocals bask in their own monotony. This languish does make the next track The Bottomless Pit appear as probably better than it actually is but it does establish a solid blasting pace. The album closes on a high note with the hidden track within Seven Billion Graves truly painting a bleak image through dissonance. Yet while its pushing of their sound is intriguing, the rest of the album leading up to that moment is too content with not sounding different and devlops a repetitive streak to it all.

The second half of the album steps up the quality a hair, but never enough to really warrant giving this album too many plays. On paper, these guys should be better than they are, but when you listen to it, it quickly gets lost in your mind and lacks any gripping characteristics. The sound might be appreciated by listeners who aren’t already wholly immersed in the scene of entombedcore, but if you are, there are other better bands than this. But I’m sure there are those who will enjoy this for what it attempts to do.

Killing Songs :
Vermin of Dust, Darkness I Became
Koeppe quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by The Secret that we have reviewed:
The Secret - Solve Et Coagula reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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