Humanity continues to prove fascinated by the obscene. Perhaps if we can push our art far enough out there, we can escape what we’re left with back here, the collective thinking might go. Understanding the darkness that surrounds us works sometimes, but not always — more often the key rests somewhere between acceptance and drive.
These themes converge on The Secret’s three track release Lux Tenebris, out now via Southern Lord Recordings. The EP isn’t for the fainthearted. It drags the listener across nearly 20 minutes of jagged but immersive musical terrain, confronting contorting sound-birthed demons of sorts along the way.
On the work, the Italian metallers zeroed in on some of their most mood-driven components. They dialed their atmosphere and doom up, taking their band that had previously been known in part for a grindcore-esque mix to a new level.
“After recording two albums that were really stripped down in terms on songwriting, I felt the push to focus on something a bit different,” the band’s guitarist Michael Bertoldini explains. “I wanted to write music that was very immersive and that could take the listener to some other place, something somehow more psychedelic and escapist. The two previous albums were conceived with a ‘shock and awe’ type of attitude and they really make sense in that way, but this time I wanted something somehow more musical, so to say.”
“For the first time in a while, we wanted to pay some attention to dynamics and tension, to write tracks that were more like a journey,” he adds. “We still wanted to have the same dense and bold sound, but we wanted to take things a bit further and deeper, to show nuances.”
Where The Darkness Comes From
This music didn’t emerge out of a void. Perhaps lending to the efficacy of their work, the band as a whole has been releasing music for well over a decade at this point. Personally — and perhaps familiarly for some — Bertoldini has been involved in heavy music since his childhood. His father drummed in a heavy metal band in the 1980s, and the eventual guitarist often ended up at his shows.
“Music was always a huge part of my life. It really helped me escape some quite tragic times at home when I was a kid. So if I look back at things it always felt natural to express myself this way,” he says.
He’s come a long way since his childhood, though. He — and the other members of The Secret — fell into utilizing their music as a personal outlet. That’s some of the most striking horror in the first place, anyway — the personality infused, and The Secret might be said to play horror metal.
“Most of all, this band is a way to let ourselves go,” Bertoldini says. “I don’t necessarily know why we sound like this, but what I do know for sure is that there is a dark side in all of us that we try to bring out through this music. It might sound cliched or pompous, but playing with The Secret is a cathartic experience for us, something that brings out parts of us that are not on the surface in different social contexts. It’s something primal, violent and intense.”
His take certainly remains apparent through his band’s music. They delve straight into thick depths.
The closely watching fan will no doubt notice that their newest sonic exploration is the band’s first released material in some six years. In the intervening time, Bertoldini explains, the band members simply fell out of touch after a build-up of tension from their all-out touring schedule that kicked off in large part after their Solve et Coagula full length came out in 2011. The intensity they drew from for their music made itself known for better or for worse in their lives yet again.
Eventually, though, the forces at hand drew them back. “It’s not easily explicable, but after three years of complete silence somehow a little spark ignited our will to communicate and eventually play music together again,” the guitarist says.
The material the band came up with after that spark emerged from pieces collected throughout the years building up to release, since all the way back in 2014.
“Lux Tenebris represents a sort of bridge between the past, the present and the future,” Bertoldini says. “There are a lot of contrasting elements expressed in this EP, and that’s why I believe Lux Tenebris is a release that should be listened to in its entirety. All the songs have their own identity, but they definitely gain much more expressive power in the context of the EP.”
In the end, The Secret’s music proves not just blood curdling, but deeper, gripping the external and the internal. They’ve presented a blackened lake ready to jump into via Lux Tenebris.
Dive in below, via Spotify. Photo via David Robinson
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