- Secret Band
So here I am listening to Secret Band‘s first LP all morning writing a review for it after finding out through wikipedia that a new LP is being released May 10. I finish the review and grab the video for the end of it and while I’m on YouTube I see they actually released the album today. About an hour before I posted my final review. What are the odds? Well, lets make it a double feature.
Secret Band is the heavy side of Dance Gavin Dance and their first LP in 2014 reflected that more accurately. This LP marks their departure from that context as they develop a more unique metal orientated sound. The Metal Archives will have a hard time not accepting Secret Band after this one. I won’t go into the background with DGD, Will, Jon, Eric, Acceptance Speech and Happiness again, you can suss out my first review to read that stuff.
This time around Secret Band are shedding some of their modern post-hardcore tropes in favor of a more direct thrash/death/metalcore format. Off the bat we have an improvement with the album art this time around, showing us something more pronounced. Very Banksy. Other than that this follows the first LP closely with short song titles and a collection of tracks that each have their own little surprise or homage. The DGD edges have been cut off the sound effectively taking on a new identity, building the foundation for more serious future for the band. Each track ends with excitement for the one coming, each track is brutal but also presented slightly differently every time. We also see the introduction of more melody but in the way that prog metal or post metal uses melody, not their typical DGD guitar tones and progressions. These improvements and presentations help to create a hyper-listenable record that never hits an off beat.
These guys sure as shit haven’t lost any talent. Jon Mess’ screaming gets better every year and this record really flexes his range which outright shocked me on some of these tracks. I didn’t even know he could go as high as he does in No One I Know. I’m just convinced he’s a genius, he can accompany any composition and contort his voice in ways I don’t even understand, like he’s able sing while screaming. This is top tier modern -core vocals. This is better than all the generic post-metalcore releases I’ve been hearing like Architects and Northlane these past few years, it’s better than a lot of metal and it’s better than a lot of hardcore. They’ve really blurred the genres with finesse to generate an undeniably heavy album. The guitar, drums and bass are all on point as usual, showing a great deal of versatility. These guys can straight up stop and start sudden changes seamlessly, it all travels as one unit with the vocals and you can hear that constant forward momentum in the pacing. In the fives years since the first LP they’ve certainly brushed up on their metal chops with a lot more modern metal influences and it’s really upped the ante for them in terms of being considered a serious metal band rather than a DGD side-project.
There was a moment or two where I become skeptical, particularly a couple of parts where auto-tuned clean vocals are introduced and has a bit of a modern tackiness to it. Fortunately it’s barely there at all and I’m actually thankful that wasn’t the new direction entirely. It was closer to the style of Dillinger Escape Plan on Option Paralysis, and the vocals have similarities as well. LP 2 shows an appropriate amount of growth that makes me really hopeful for an even better LP 3 in the distant future.
If you want more background on this album read my first review because a lot of those ideals are carried over here. The gore related stuff appears to be mostly gone on this release though. As I listen in more detail I’ll add to this.