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4 out of 5 skulls
November 9, 2012 | ,

The Secret Agnus Dei

I’ve had the opportunity to check out a couple of The Secret’s earlier albums and, to tell you the truth, they just didn’t impress me all that much. Perhaps I had blinders on or perhaps the band was still working on their sound, but they always came across as a poor man’s Converge. With the band’s fourth album, Agnus Dei now out in the open and raising a big middle finger to The Pope and all things religious, it’s high time to give these guys some props. And, oddly enough, they’ve employed Converge’s Kurt Ballou and his Godcity Studios to produce a more blackened, violent edge to their brand of hardcore.

Hostility toward organized Religion and The Almight runs rampant throughout the thirteen tracks of Agnus Dei. Each track stands out just fine on their own, but when taken as a whole the caustic blend of grind, hardcore, black metal and crust is frighteningly dark and malevolent. Just take album opener and title track, “Agnus Dei” as an example. The song absolutely erupts from the speakers after a brief sound byte and reverb only to gallop across your prone body like the unrelenting hooves of the horses of the Apocalypse. The song flat out slays.

The sonic attack continues with the aptly titled “May God Damn All of Us” and its vile, blackened shroud of hatred. The song is well structured with all sorts of time shifts and bruising riffs all wrapped up in Ballou’s signature buzzing textures (see his work on the latest Black Breath effort). “Violent Infection” will most certainly infect your core with as violent a delivery as the band can muster. “Post Morten Nihil Est” slows things down a touch with a doomy vibe to the riff and thundering rhythms.

For as much of a blackened char each track has, the band truly does an excellent job incorporating their hardcore influences as well as plenty of crusty grind. Check out “Daily Lies” and especially “The Bottomless Pit” in particular. While the former blasts away unrelenting, the latter puts it to shame with absolute grinding mayhem. It’s one hell of a song and will leave you dizzy and breathless. Songs like “Obscure Dogma” and “Vermin of Lust” also keep things interesting by changing up their tempos and delivery.

The Secret may have been seen as a Converge clone a few releases ago, but I’ll be damned if they haven’t made a huge improvement with their fourth album. Agnus Dei is a monstrous release. Its blackened, crusty blast of malevolence is sure to have heads turning their way. I know I had to do a double take after first listen. I’m not a full convert yet, but my interest and attention has certainly been piqued. If these guys can keep the momentum rolling they are going to have the Pope sweating like a pig deep in the Vatican.

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