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One can be forgiven for dismissing Secrets She Kept as another one of the many metalcore bands sprouting since the turn of the century, with a band name as such. It certainly surprised me then, learning that they are actually a black metal band, formed by Necrol, formerly from Kult ov Azazel. However, do not expect this to be another Kult ov Azazel album (why would one do so anyway, considering the short stint of Necrol in the aforementioned band).
The album opens with Legion, an abrasive track backed by an almost awkward guitar riff that would have been irritating if it had carried on for 10 seconds longer, before the band breaks into the track proper. Throughout the song, unconventional guitar riffs are constantly introduced, and while it certainly keeps the listener on the edge of his seat, it starts to get irritating halfway through the song. The main things that helps the song and the rest of the album are the brilliant executed and at times technical guitar solos throughout the album, and Necrol's vocals.
Fortunately, from the second track onwards it is more or less the usual extreme metal fare, with Carrion Soul sounding like a cross between Polish death metal legends Vader and Norway's Satyricon, with vocals that almost sound similar to Peter Wiwczarek, displaying the versatility of Necrol's vocal patterns. The death and thrash metal influences are also further displayed throughout the album, such as on Enemy, with the heavily palm-muted riffs punctuated with pinch harmonics, and the frenzy Slayer-esque guitar solo.
While it could have been a good idea to incorporate various elements from the different sub-genres into the music, at times it seems too overwhelming, drowning out the black metal roots of the band. For example, the introduction of FleshEater could easily lead listeners unfamiliar with the band to mistake it as a technical death metal track, then confusing the listener again when the verse comes in, before breaking into a heavy chugging section towards the end of the track. Fortunately, this is one of the better moments on the album.
What really threw me off and led my impression of this album to drop is the inclusion of the breakdown moment on The Messiah of Pus and Bleeding Excrement. Fine, I might be getting slightly anal here, but seriously, breakdowns? In a black metal album? Granted, as the guitar solo comes in it might sound almost like Slayer's Raining Blood. But no, thank you, I guess I'll stick to my standard black metal album instead of checking out such "innovations". The band ends off the album with yet another death metal moment with Undying, chugging their way until the end of the track.
While Most of the tracks on this release are pretty enjoyable, the awkward opening track, coupled with that few core-ish moments certainly marred the experience. Removing the breakdown on The Messiah of Pus and bleeding Excrement will certainly make this album a more fulfilling experience. Still, I wouldn't write this band off just yet considering the ability of the individual band members on their instruments.