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Converge Meets Darkthrone - 80%

FullMetalAttorney, December 27th, 2010

The Secret is an Italian band whose third album, Solve Et Coagula, got a lot of attention on various year-end lists for 2010.

OK, so their name is stupid. It sounds like they're a women's deodorant, and they made it almost impossible to search for themselves on the Internet. Despite the stupid name, they have a great approach to metal that's anything but sissy. They're part of the growing number of bands who combine punk and black metal. In this case, they've combined it with grindcore to form what I'll call blackgrind.

The band sounds like Converge meets Darkthrone. Opener "Cross Builder" is really just a prelude to the album, evoking a strong image of hell's orchestra tuning their instruments before the big concert. After that, the rest of the album is basically an all-out assault, with the drums hitting blast beats most of the time, the guitars playing blackened dissonant riffs, and the vocals sounding like a much more evil version of Sean Farber. The bass is there and audible at times, but most of the time it's hidden by the cacaphony. They do manage to slow down a bit and groove (see "Weatherman"), or get really ominous (see "Bell of Urgency"), but they never let up for more than a moment.

The only downside to this is that, being very grind influenced, many of the songs don't feel like complete songs. Though split into 12 tracks (many less than 2 minutes long), it doesn't feel like that many distinct compositions. Tracks 2, 3, and 4 feel like one song, as do tracks 5 through 9. If they rearranged these eight songs into two or three compositions, things would have felt more complete. They did save the best for last, though, as closer "1968" is fully fleshed-out and features some weirdly compelling riffing.

The Verdict: Solve Et Coagula is a different spin on the flavor of the week (the punk/black metal combo), so they're worth checking out. And the album is certainly made up of a lot of great parts, if lacking a bit of completeness.

originally written for

Tremendous - 87%

atanamar, October 27th, 2010

The Secret dispense with the icy cold black metal aesthetic, instead churning up a hot, humid tropical depression. A fetid breeze wafts scents of sludge over arpeggiated darkness with “Cross Builder,” and we get our first glimpses of the boiling demonic voice that will narrate this tempest. The offshore winds slowly gain strength before engulfing you in a teeming downpour of rage with “Death Alive.” Here the curious nature of this music fully reveals itself; the Secret are a perfect storm of hardcore riffs doused in dissonant darkness, tossed with frenetic drumming that shifts between thunderous hammering and bludgeoning blastbeats.

Tracks like “Weathermen” bring occasional lulls from the lashing blackness, slowing enough to let pools of viscous ooze flood the landscape. “Eve of the Last Day” brings a rare bit of tremolo-picked siren's call, certainly evoking Black Anvil before beckoning us to smash everything in sight with a doomy stomp. ”War Desire” follows a similar path, calling our attention to a minor keyed melody that floats above the tune before dragging us down into an atonal slaughter.

Marco Coslovich's vocals lead us into a cathartic cyclone of anger, taking aim at religion, society, war and the egregious excess of modern life. We're encouraged to burn it all down and walk away. The album's title invokes a dictum of medieval Alchemy, literally imploring us to “separate and join together” or “dissolve and coagulate.” I suspect this sentiment is in no way conciliatory; there's nothing redeemable about our world. In “Pursuit of Discomfort,” Mr. Coslovich informs us that “The only choice that we're free to make is to find the right circle of hell.”

Forged in their native Italy but recorded by Kurt Ballou at his Godcity Studio, Solve Et Coagula is gorgeously produced. Michael Bertoldini's char-broiled guitar tone has a guttural gravitas that unsurprisingly sparks thoughts of Converge. Enrico Uliana's bass pulsates with distortion and adds heft to Tommaso Corte's rhythmic siege. Through it all, Marco Coslovich spews vitriolic diatribes in a voice that is nothing short of filthy.

Hardcore has made many new incursions into metal of late, but this experiment appeals to me much more than the endless splicing and dicing of Entombed DNA. Solve Et Coagula's appeal is immediate and visceral; I want to throw wide my arms and let this storm of anger wash over me. Now come tour the United States, please.

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