LP Review; Secrets: “Secrets”

“Sixteen” starts with a slight murmuring in the background that slowly switches to the twitching of an electronic tone. This electronic tone quickly branches off into monochromatic-type pitches that blend together, and as they do so, they build to lead the audience into the first melodic figure of the album. This first motive is still heard at a distance; however, it resonates with a brighter timbre. Once this sits with the audience momentarily, the string section enters and adopts the same motive as the vocals join in with a mixture of held out chords, which creates a tonally pleasing sound. After the first vocals are introduced, they sing the lyrics that will drive a portion of the work. From here, the instrumentation splits to provide the thick orchestration that Secrets is known for. Once the full instrumentation becomes present, the second vocalist enters, driving home an aggressive vocal line through their screamed vocal technique. Throughout the verse, the band messes with instrumentation, for there are moments where the instrumental ensemble juxtaposes the rhythmic portion of the lyrical line; however, other times they completely replicate the same motive. As the band moves towards the chorus of the work, the vocalists alternate vocal styles, which gives the audience a significant amount of contrast. Near the end of the piece, the band includes a heavier verse that is led by homorhythmic motion between the vocalist and the instrumental ensemble. This helps to provide the audience with another verison of the same lyrical content. This section leads directly into the chorus of the work, which will guide the audience to the end. This was a smart first track for the album, for it embodies the approach that the audience is used to when listening to a track by Secrets; also, the piece itself is musically multidimensional, which gives the listeners high expectations for the album.

“Fourteen” starts with a rapid instrumental feature from the first downbeat of the work. This interlude is driven by a string motive that spirals repetitively as the percussion section keeps the steady pulse strict with additional embellishments here and there. This is strong for the band, for this provides a different change of pace when comparing this to the opening of the previous track. Throughout this instrumental interlude, the ensemble creates and maintains the groove, which will become the foundation of the work, but the clean vocalist adds small injections here and there to continuously give the audience new melodic content. When the vocals first enter, the instrumentation drops slightly to allow the aggressive vocals to shine. In this instance, the aggressive vocals don’t come across as a full scream; rather, they come across strained, which directly enforces the meaning behind the lyrics that are being vocalized. When the band reaches the chorus of the work, the vocals switch to the clean vocal-type, and the texture of the instrumental section thins out both instrumentally and rhythmically. This strategy helps to allow the memorable chorus to shine even brighter than it would with just the catchy melodic line. The second verse starts in the area of the clean vocal technique with interjections of the aggressive one, which provides some symmetry to the track, for it won’t be too heavy nor too light. Towards the end of the piece, the band provides a third verse that includes clean and screamed vocals layered overtop one another, which provides the audience with a new timbre to attach to. This section moves to the chorus of the work, and it does so in two parts where the band plays with different textural techniques before concluding the selection.

 “Incredible” starts with an evolving electronic semi-tone that builds quickly to lead the audience to the first instrumental melodic idea of the work. The instrumental part that is introduced focuses on a simply shifting of notes before vocals are heard at a distance. The band pauses for the splitest of seconds before the instrumental section drops down with force, musically speaking. In this moment, the aggressive vocals enter, and they ride the audience through the first verse of the selection. Right before the band reaches the chorus, the clean vocalist enters to take the lead. This is a nice shift for the audience, for the band slams into the chorus with the thickest texture the band has provided to date. To further, in this chorus, the band is providing wall to wall instrumental rhythmic ideas that give the listeners harmonics that mesh well with the harmonies of the different vocal-types that the band has. The lyrical content of the chorus is minimal; however, that is more than okay in this instance, for the audience will be overtaken by the loveliness of the harmonics the band is utilizing in this moment. Right after the chorus, the aggressive vocals enter to spin into the second verse. The second verse uses more of an opposition of vocal-types through a back and forth technique. This gives the audience something new to attach to before transitioning back to the breath-taking chorus of the work. Near the end of the track, the band moves towards a third verse that creates a groove that elongates the steady pulse with a half-time feel. This is strong for the artist, for it allows the verse to feel like a breakdown with its mixed vocals while still relating to the work as a whole. From this section, the instrumentation drops, and from there, the band begins to slowly morph back into the larger than life chorus, which ends the track.

“Strangers” starts with a quick downbeat provided by the instrumental section, which is immediately followed by the melody of the first verse sung by the clean vocalist. The instrumental materials throughout the first verse are thinner, for they focus more on simple harmonies and rhythms. This allows the instrumental section as a whole to relax and create a pleasing grove that isn’t overwhelming, but it isn’t boring either. As the band pushes towards the chorus, it is heard that they increase their intensity, musically speaking, which blends seamlessly when the aggressive vocalist enters to vocalize a few phrases before the band moves to the chorus of the work. Within the chorus of the selection, the instrumental section embellishes on the small motives that they use throughout the verse, which gives them the opportunity to shine a bit more, and this will make the track more interesting as well. The second verse is similar to the first except at the tail end of the second verse, the instrumental section grinds in with the harsher vocals to provide a heavier moment to the audience. This works well in this moment, for the audience was getting used to the lighter sound for this track, and here the band flipped that idea upside down. After the second run of the chorus, the band includes an instrumental feature that puts focus on the string section. This feature rotates to add in the edgier vocals slowly, this gives the band the opportunity to spin into the biggest breakdown of the album up to this point. Throughout this major breakdown, the instrumental section uses homorhythmic actions with intensity to provide a darker tone. This approach provides beautiful contrast for when the band moves back to the chorus. This is a foreseen favorite of the album, for it gives the audience both sides of Secrets’ musicianship that they appreciate and adore.

“Five Years” starts with a percussion motive that is heard from a distance. This motive remains the same rhythmically as the volume increases to give off the illusion that the music is tangibly right in front of the listener. The timbre of the drums that the percussion section are using sounds different than ones from the previous tracks, for it sounds as if the percussionist is playing on steel or aluminum lids of some sort. This motive eventually levels out as the harsher vocals enter to begin to progress the work forward. As the full instrumental ensemble enters after the vocals do, it is heard that the initial motive becomes the foundation for the work, musically speaking. This works well, for as the band takes the audience through the first verse and the chorus, it can be said that the selection resonates with a creepier tone. Meaning, the harmonics mixed with the tone colors and techniques that the vocalists are using are mixing together to form a sound that falls near something that would be heard in a Halloween thematic tonal area, harmonically speaking. As the band moves towards the end of the work, the instrumentation drops, leaving the strumming of one guitar to established a small, relaxed groove. From here, the percussion enters with the new pulse, which the aggressive vocals ride on top of before a grand pause is utilized. After this grand pause, the band includes a small instrumental breakdown that transitions back to the chorus of the work. When the band moves back to the chorus, they improvise with new techniques and groove centers to give their audience something different.

 “Mouth Breather” starts with an intense instrumental interlude that is driven by heavy hits provided by the percussion section. As the percussion session holds the steady pulse firm with various embellishments, the string section mimics the same heavy attack through elaborate motives that drive the melodic content of the work. The band rides this instrumental interlude for quite some time before the aggressive vocals enter to transition the audience into the first verse. Throughout the verse, the vocalists provide a back and forth between vocal-types to give their audience a sense of the push and pull nature of their clean to aggressive vocals. This works well, for it helps the listeners to internalize the turmoil that the lyrics depict within this moment. The band provides a traditional chorus for the audience before shifting into a more intense second verse. In this verse, the primary focus is on the harsher vocal-type with heavy attacks across the entire instrumental ensemble to enhance this style. This style remains constant for the duration of the second verse, which leads the audience back to the chorus of the work. In the middle of the selection, the clean vocalist has a moment to shine. In this case, the instrumental section lightens their hits to allow there to be a high level of contrast present. From this moment, the band seamlessly morphs into a breakdown led through a half-time driven groove that is enforced through the percussion section. When this moment commences, the vocals enter in sparingly, but when they do so, they utilize the edgier vocal technique. This moment simmers for a while before moving back to the chorus of the track, which will eventually guide the listeners to the end of the work.

“Lost Cause” starts with a progressive instrumental feature from the first downbeat of the work. This instrumental interlude includes two basic ideas: an elaborative take on the pulse of the work through the percussion section and a simple string motive gliding over top. The band allows this interlude to reign true for a while before the vocals enter in almost abruptly. The first verse is driven by the clean vocals, which gives the audience something simple to attach to right off the bat. Once the band transitions to the chorus of the work, it is heard that the band keeps the same fundamentals as they did throughout the first verse; however, in this moment the vocalist expands his range to give the listeners a more dynamic vocal line. Throughout the second verse, it sounds as if the band is leaning forward slightly, for their music seems to pick up the pace. This works well for the band, for in this verse, the band includes vocals that sound strained, which juxtaposes the technique that has reigned throughout this work thus far. This technique eventually evolves into the aggressive vocal type. In this moment, the band switches to a more intense approach to their instrumental material, which will sound like an advanced shift to the audience. The moment provided by the harsher vocals stays present longer than one would assume, which works well for the track, for it gives it a stronger sense of characteristic symmetry. Before the selection concludes, the instrumental section drops in instrumentation to allow the lyrics of the chorus to be repeated at a lower, more intimate dynamic before slamming into one last run of the heartfelt lyrical content.

“Last Time” starts with a string motive that is heard in the lower register of the instrument. This motive is running through a few steps up, musically speaking, and then it is left by a step down. This motive is repeated as the vocals enter for the first time on this track. After the first phrase is vocalized, the full instrumental ensemble joins in to create a traditional groove for the work. This groove leads the audience directly to the first verse. This verse provides the audience with a dynamic melodic contour, for it gives them a vocal line that plays with the natural rise and fall of the clean vocalist’s voice. Additionally, the band includes a layered effect, harmonically speaking, which gives the first verse a nice sense of dimension. As the band moves towards the chorus, it is heard that the band toys with the juxtaposing of phrases with different approaches to vocal-types as well as the position of the said vocals. The second verse is similar to the first; however, the band keeps the instrumentation more consistent throughout this verse, which works well leading back to the chorus. Towards the end of the track, the band spins into an instrumental interlude that quickly morphs into a homophonic, intertwining musical experience that allows the vocals to shine one moment and the instrumental material the next. The overall dynamics of this portion are lesser than previous moments in the work, this gives the band the opportunity to grow to the last run of the chorus, which makes for an exciting ending.

“Chemical Reaction” starts with vocals from the very first second of the piece. The vocals that are presented ride in the lower to middle range of the clean vocalist. As the clean vocals provide a gentle rise and fall for the audience, the instrumental section is providing a small back and forth between pitches, which creates a relaxed harmonic series for the vocals to glisten on top of. The percussion section provides the steady pulse of the work through a high-hat timbre with slight variations here and there. This helps to keep the track together when the instrumentation is minimal. The chorus of the work is the polar opposite, instrumentally speaking, for the instrumental ensemble becomes fully present as the vocalist begins to expand his range to deliver a beautiful melodic line. Throughout the second verse, it is heard that the instrumental section is performing small nuances that ornament the gentle nature of the vocal line, in this moment. This is a strong tactic for the band because it enhances the delicate nature of the work. In the middle of the selection, the band elaborates on the motives of the chorus, and they do so while remaining constant within the thicker textural state with various moments of vocal isolation to provide solid contrast. The band eventually moves back to the chorus; however, before they do so, they include a verse in almost total isolation with a small instrumental feature. This was a smart track to include on the album, for it shows their audience that they can produce a softer-spoken song without veering so far off the path of their characteristic sound; also, this piece gives their audience a breather, musically speaking, since the majority of the other works are packed full with intensity.

 “3.17.16” starts with a semi-tone that rests at a distance. This semi-tone rests uneasily for a moment before it begins to slowly grow to sound as if it is coming towards the listener. As this sound evolves, a small string motive joins overtop it with vocals that mimic the perspective effect heard at the beginning of the work. Soon after this, the clean vocalist takes the audience’s breathe away, for he provides a gentle melodic line that is sung in isolation other than the reoccurring semi-tone. This is strong for the artist, for it allows the audience to just focus on the vocals, and the vocals that are presented hit the heart strings throughout the entire verse. Instead of having a larger than life chorus after the first verse, the band includes an ornamented instrumental interlude that abruptly ends with a second verse that starts similar to the first. Throughout the second verse, the vocalist begins to expand on his range. When he does so, he is able to extend his emotions, for the fluctuations of his voice allow the certain emotions to shine through clearly; additionally, in these moments, the instrumental ensemble is able to add small motives that amplify these feelings in a grandeur way. Towards the middle of the track, the band introduces the first solid chorus of the work, which provides a sense of foundation for the piece. From here, the band falls back to the mellow vibe that has remained throughout the work; however, after a few seconds, the band transitions into the aggressive vocal-type. This then shifts into an instrumental breakdown that resolves to the clean vocals with a slight edge to them. As a whole, this work has a beautiful progression of somber to intense, which makes for an overly dynamic work, and a selection such as this shows the growth Secrets has made as a band.

“The End” starts with the evolution of electronics. As the electronics resonate, they come across as if they are fading in and out with heavy hits that help to create the silence that breaks up the clusters of sound. This melodic idea fades to a more static approach as the vocals enter for the first time. When the vocals enter, they rest among three major pitches, which helps to capture the audience’s attention, for this approach is something completely different than everything else on the album up until this point. As the first verse continues, the percussion section adds to the mix to provide the steady pulse of the work, which will help to keep the piece pushing forward. As the first verse progresses on, the vocalist shifts back and forth between this newer, solemn vocal-type, and the one that is characteristic for the band. Right before the band shifts to the chorus of the work, a repetition of unison hits are heard across the entire instrumental section, which helps lead into a grand chorus because this helps to juxtapose the two major styles of the verse to the chorus. Once the chorus sounds, it resembles the majority of the others on the album. Once the audience hears the second verse, which sounds familiar to the first, it can be derived that Secrets is pulling genre influence from the alternative/pop genre of music, for they are keeping their instrumentation minimal while providing a gentle, memorable melodic line. This is smart for the band, for it shows what else they are capable of, musically speaking. As the band nears the end of the work, they include small phrases that are projected in unison from the vocals to the instrumental material. This is another new tactic for the band, which will transition well to the end of the work after one last run of the chorus with a spin-off verse.

 “Let Me In” starts with a slightly quicker tempo than the previous track; however, the band keeps the foundation of the work driven by electronic tones. These electronics provide a small swelling technique that helps to allow the clean vocals to burst through the seams of the song at a louder volume from their first entrance. The vocalist shifts between a monothematic melodic line, and a melodic line that takes the audience through a gentle rise and fall with the fluctuation of his vocal range. This tactic remains static until the instrumentals drop out, so that the vocalist can yell “let them in” before the entire band slams into a larger than life chorus. The chorus of the work is forwarded by a steady groove provided by the instrumental section, which is strong, for in this chorus the artist provides a nice dichotomous style by half of it being led by the clean vocals, and the other half led by the aggressive vocals. The second verse of the piece starts out at the softer dynamic; however, as the verse progresses, more of the instrumental section becomes present, which helps to build the natural evolution of the verse that will soon lead to the chorus of the work. As the band begins to work towards the end of the selection, they lead the audience into a breakdown that utilizes both the instrumental section as well as the harsher vocal type. In this moment, the groove switches, continuously, between the standard feel with a half-time feel, this helps to give the vocalist more freedom to elaborate on his vocal line while giving the audience something artistically different. This section ends sporadically, and it does so by leading to silence. This grand pause resonates momentarily before the entire ensemble moves back to the chorus of the work, which will eventually draw the listeners to the end of the album. This was a strong final selection for the album, for it, alone, stands as a cohesive collection of the tactics that the band utilized throughout every song on the album.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score for several reasons. The first reason I am giving this album such a score is because within this album, listeners are going to get the true Secrets sound that they know and love; additionally, they will also gather new music that falls into a similar mold, but it is refined, pristine, and epic to put it bluntly. The other reason I landed on this score is because I feel like this is one of the better hardcore albums to be released, for the band provides a gracious amount of symmetry and contrast moving from track to track, which gives the audience variety, and this makes all of their music sound different. Therefore, if you are searching for a metal/hardcore album to get down to and vibe along with: this one’s for you! Nicely done!

*”Secrets” was released on February 23, 2018 through Made in the Shade Records

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