Monday, January 17, 2011

The Secret: Solve Et Coagula (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.

Solve Et CoagulaOK, 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. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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