Review Summary: A secret best un-kept.
Italy isn't typically known for producing many good metal bands (i.e. Lacuna Coil). There are a handful of enjoyable and even semi-successful bands such as Ephel Duath, Novembre, and Rhapsody (for the power metallers), but for the most part not much comes out of the country. There is, however, one band that managed to make it out of the boot, and by the sound of their latest release, Disintoxication, The Secret mean business. Hailing from Trieste, Italy, The Secret play a chaotic brand of metal that includes elements of hardcore, noise, and post-metal. One minute it's frantic discordant insanity and the next it's a slow paced sludge, but it's always heavy, dark, and brooding.
Marco Coslovich - vocals
Michael Bertoldini - guitar
Sacha Zucconi - bass
Matteo Piatti - drums
The album starts out with the ominous slow-build of the intro "Morte", and then hits you with the Mac truck that is "Intoxication". A furious song that starts out raging, but then after a huge breakdown changes into a creeping sludge that would make fans of Neurosis and Isis happy. Intoxication pretty much shows you what this band is all about, following this formula throughout most of the album.
“Inferno" is next and its just as crushing as its predecessor only this time the breakdown is at the end and it is simply monstrous. By now you may be thinking "Oh no, another one of those bands", but don't let that deter you. They don't abuse the breakdown by any means. The guitarist manage to change up enough to make them actually serve a purpose, and they end up fitting really well, never sounding forced.
The next aural assault is in the form of "Poisoned Blood is Never Enough". This brings me to something that I noticed a little when listening to the first two tracks, and "Poisoned..." just confirmed it. I can't deny that there is a little bit of a Converge similarity here. Right from the get-go "Poisoned..." sounds like the bastard child of "Concubine". It even boasts a short running time clocking in at a mere 1:48, making it the shortest song on the album. It's relentless from start to finish and is also the only song not to include anything sludgy. "Limbo", "Saul", and "Funeral Monolith" follow and continue in the vein of the first two songs, yet they all have their own identity in some way.
With the closing of "Funeral Monolith" comes the lurching beast that is "Umea". It starts out with an eerie guitar line drenched in delay with some tribal sounding drums entering shortly after. Then it slams you with one of the hugest riffs of the album. This continues throughout the song with brief rests that only build back up until the song fades. For some reason I always picture "Umea" as a giant beast that you could see coming in the distance; watching until it arrives and destroys everything around you. The brief moments of rest are when you find a hiding place for a short amount of time, but you know you're not safe still. The fade out is the beast's departure as you look upon the devastation it's just inflicted. It's the only song of it's kind on the album.
The next song, "Death to Pigs" brings me to one of the reasons that I really enjoy this album, and that's Matteo Piatti's drumming. I'm not saying he's the best drummer in the world, but dammit I love what he does here. His variety seems endless, and "Death to Pigs" is a good example. From 1:08 to 1:32, the guitar is playing one thing, but the drums are always changing making that single riff seem to change. This is just a small example of his talent, as he absolutely rips all through this album. This isn't to say that all he does is shred. Piatti has a wonderful talent of knowing when to play extreme and when to play almost nothing at all. He's probably my favorite part of the album. The last song "Kill the Dead" is lumped in with the previously mentioned five. A great song, but it seemed like a weak closer to me.
The Secret doesn't play anything that hasn't been done before, but they do seem to amplify it. Michael Bertoldini's guitar work is technical and crushing yet remains somewhat accessible. Meaning that, a lot of the time the riffs are off the wall, yet they remain memorable. They had a second guitarist on their previous album, but now Bertoldini is the only one, and I think it's really helped them create a sound for themselves. Luce was pretty good as well, but they have matured immensely in the four years since it's release. Marco Coslovich's vocals are probably the least thrilling element of the album, but that's not saying he's bad at all. He's screaming full boar throughout. His voice does get a little monotonous at times, but the music took my attention enough that it wasn't an issue. The closest comparison I can think of would be to that of Dimitri Minakakas performance on Dillinger's Calculating Infinity. He never lets up. I do, however, think Marco has a better voice, but that's obviously subjective. His lyrics are typically about loneliness and loss. Bertoldini also contributed in writing lyrics as he penned the words for "Intoxication" and "Umea". Sacha Zucconi's bass work isn't anything to sneer at either. His contribution adds to the beefy feel of the guitar and is very apparent in the recording. And also, as mentioned before, Matteo Piatti's drum work is top notch. He adds much to the feel and progression of this record, and is the most interesting element on Disintoxication, as far as I'm concerned.
As for the production of the album, it was handled by none other than Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna fame. Magnus has produced a slew of bands including Refused, Poison the Well, and his own band, and is revered for his style. It's apparent, as his production just added to the chaos, making Disintoxication absolutely huge. He even contributed drums of the lurcher "Umea", which was written about the very city that the album was recorded in. Everything about the recording sounds great. Nothing is overpowered and everything is pumped up. It's dark and caustic, yet clear and pristine. An excellent choice by The Secret in choosing Magnus.
Disintoxication isn't anything ground breaking by any means. Bands such as Converge and Botch are veterans of this style. Though The Secret have brought it up a notch in sheer heaviness. It can get a little repetitive at times, but it seems that just as you notice any feeling of boredom at all, something happens that snaps you back. And I'm the type of person that enjoys an album that has a similar feel throughout as long as it's done well. So the fact that many of the songs slightly sound the same didn't bother me in the least. I highly recommend Disintoxication to anyone that enjoys chaotic metal core or even post-metal. The Secret is out.