The Secret’s doom-drenched madness at a violent, aggravated high on ‘Agnus Dei’

Many people over time have tried to point to heavy metal, hardcore, and punk and, due to a major lack of understanding of the music, claim that their primary goal is to influence violence and immoral behavior. That’s not totally false, by the way, but to pass off these styles of music as nothing more than this is foolish and uninformed.

As a historically non-violent person, I can’t really see what about metal or hardcore or whatever would drive me to assault someone. If anything, heavier music helps me get out my aggression in more positive ways, even if that just means living vicariously through the rage and using it as a form of catharsis. I’ve been to enough hardcore shows to know there always are going to be those meat-headed assholes who use the event as a chance to blindside and injure someone, but those people probably don’t know how to release their energy in a productive way and only see brute force as some way to justify their existence. You kind of have to laugh at them.

But after a bad day or week, I find nothing more soothing than to drive home or take a long walk with something violent and unforgiving destroying my eardrums, and Italian metallic hardcore band The Secret always do the trick. These guys are pissed off, way more than you are, and it’s easy to get lost in their thunderstorm of rage and brutality. Their albums aren’t horribly long, but they’re always effective, and they have a way of turning on the chaos like no other. In fact, in Southern Lord’s campaign to expose all that is great about underground hardcore, I’m not sure they’ve done better than The Secret. Maybe Black Breath, but we can argue this another time. This band is sooty, blinding, and heavy as hell, and their new record “Agnus Dei” is bound to cripple you.

The Secret have been around about a decade now, and in that time they’re offered up four piledriving full-lengths that are perfect for soothing that volcanic anger at your core. They signed on with the Lord for 2010’s “Solve et Coagula,” and from that point, they’re sort of been taking on the extreme music world like a swarm of killer bees would take on a puny human carcass. Their shirts are popping up at a lot of shows now, and the enthusiasm for this band should only bubble over now that “Agnus Dei” has landed. By the way, the album title refers to the Christian concept of the Lamb of God (uh, not the band, obviously), and considering organized religion long has been a sore spot for the Secret, you can imagine the vitriol on this album.

The band’s bio for this album refers to the alleged end of the world that has Mayan prophecy folks all up in arms and the fitting nature of a new album from the Secret dropping at the same time. Yeah. Makes sense. If the world is ripping asunder from each of its corners, this record would make a fitting soundtrack for that hell. The band — vocalist Marco Coslovich, guitarist Michael Bertoldini, bassist Lorenzo Gulminelli, drummer Tommaso Corte — sounds ready for the end times, almost as if they’d like to strike the match that brings everything to an infernal climax. As for me, I absorb their music and let it flows through my veins and exhaust all the anger and spite inside of me that tends to well up in a week. Works every time, and it’s a very healthy therapy, of sorts.

Kurt Ballou recorded “Agnus Dei” at his Godcity Studios fortress, and every bit of this record is as explosive and immediate as anything else the man’s responsible for helping create. The Secret, whose rhythm section is all new since the last record, even take some new dips and twists, adding more smoking doom to their recipe, almost as if by Southern Lord osmosis. They’ve had those traits in the past, but they’ve never sounded quite so involved and realized as they do on this disc. Really nice stuff, you guys.

We kick off with the title cut, that opens with a chanted prayer and launches into black metal-flavored intensity. Then it’s into “May God Damn All of Us,” a song that’s overflowing with fury and ill intent, and the title itself should clue you into the lit dynamite you’re about to face. “Violent Infection” is sinister and crazy, then “Geometric Power” follows with more bad feelings and a thick sense of dread. “Post Mortem Nihil Est,” a song you may have heard online, tackles the sinking feeling of debt and the machinations surrounding it that’ll never let you escape. It’s murky, doomy, and hopeless, especially when Coslovich howls, “We’re all going to die.” “Daily Lies” then follows with 55 second of blood spraying, countered by black metal mangler “Love Your Enemy.”

Then the record changes a bit. The songs get longer and cloudier, and the attacks are more sustained. “Vermin of Dust” has a bit of a groove to it, with the drums punishing, vocals remaining harsh, and the overall composition feeling like repeated body blows. “Darkness I Became” is intense and fiery, and it makes for the perfect lead in to “Heretic Temple,” a slow-drubbing, pure doom funeral that slowly strangles your bright lights. It is as cold and evil as this band gets. “The Bottomless Pit” brings back the speed and insanity; “Obscure Dogma” is awash in Black Sabbath-style doom rock; and closer “Seven Billion Graves” bubbles and rages over its four-minute running time, feeling like the center of a bad dream. There’s also a hidden cut that’s gazey, washed out, and frightening, reminding you that even though you got a bit of a breath, you’re not going to be permitted to return to the surface. You’re buried in ash.

While the Secret may have violent, impure intentions musically, their carnage can be good for you. They can help the frustration dissipate in your daily life and can let you go along for a ride that doesn’t end in multiple felony charges. Metal, my friends, is healthy for you when it’s this unforgiving and bloody, and if you act out in the streets, then you’re a Neanderthal and not a thinker. The Secret have everything you possibly could want from a metallic hardcore band, and considering the depth of their fury, they’re not bound to run out of vitriol any time soon.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the album, go here:

For more on the label, go here: