February 20, 2018 SECRETS – Secrets (Album Review)
A year following signing with Made in the Shade Records, San Diego, California’s SECRETS find new strength and a refreshed outlook. Despite many hardships, the band battled through to release three solid records in their tenure with Rise Records, and now power back with their fourth studio album on Friday, February 23, 2018. Opting to simply call their latest record Secrets, it is a follow-up to 2015’s Everything Got Us Here, an album which saw them shift directions slightly.
As alluded to, SECRETS is refreshed and with their new lineup featuring long-time members Vocalist/Guitarist Richard Rogers, and Guitarist Michael Sherman, along with Unclean Vocalist Wade Walters, and Bassist Connor Brannigan, together they partner with Producer Kris Crummett on what could be the best album of their career thus far.
The 12-track playlist slowly unravels with “Sixteen” being the opening number. A eerily haunting intro creeps in with heavy bass. The vibe almost gives off the feeling of walking alone at night – having the constant need to check over a shoulder. Half a minute in, harmonizing vocals burst into a fast-paced and high-energy composition. A fitting opening song, it displays the courage to walk away or a “celebration of separation” as the band would call it.
Two years prior to, or at least what can be gathered from the previous track’s title, “Fourteen” paints the picture from a not-so courageous stance. It keeps the rapid fire pulse from the first song and releases all anger intertwined with a parent’s divorce. Additionally, the chanting “whoas” bring life in a sing-a-long sense while remaining a head banger with a very catchy chorus. Another emotional piece, it explains the inner turmoil an adolescent has of being caught in the middle, having questions, and feeling taught that it is okay to give up when times get rough.
Next comes the album’s first single, “Incredible.” Released in September of last year, it finds itself bringing new life to the album. A Bring Me The Horizon feel is emitted with light, angelic “who we are” vocals, only before raw vocals take the lead against rushing electric guitars. A battle of the voices, combining both harmonizing lead and rough, offset screaming vocals, it is intense. The heaviest breakdown takes place when Grunge guitars dance with the grinding bass, making a well-composed piece that promises immense energy for a live performance.
Changing it up, the longest song, “Stranger,” is a little more of a bopper. Here, the keys add a nice element to the background, contrasting the heaviness and making for a pleasant surprise. The lyrics are vague enough to be relatable on nearly any aspect before glass shatters post-bridge, unleashing a wrath of “spilling guts to make a mess.” This is before the shortest cut off the album, “Mouth Breather.” A standout, regardless of length, it provides the honesty just about anyone wishing they could instead bite the tongue. A chuckle may have to escape with lyrics such as, “Here’s a needle and a thread, go stitch your fucking wounds up,” but honestly, a song like this is needed every now and then.
Another song about the tough part where the tongue biting can no longer hold strong is “Last Time.” A striking track about trying to save someone from their addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or sex. Sadly, there is only so much you can help someone and you simply have to let them go. This tragic story is true to many of our lives and is part of what makes this band so engaging.
A change of pace compared to gut-wrenching emotion of the previous song, “Lost Cause” radiates a Yellowcard feel. The sing-a-long piece, it has wholesome chanting, echoing through the ringing guitars. Continuing this style, “03.17.16” is a song about the unraveling of Richard’s personal tragedy and the loss of his older sister. Layered with higher pitched guitars, Richard belts his heart out in the beautifully composed piece. A lump is guaranteed to form in your throat with a sinking heart and is truly a defining moment on the album.
The final two songs are different compared to the rest of the record, but that is what makes them so remarkable. SECRETS veered off the Hardcore influenced sound and go in the direction of a lighter, experimental sound. First there is “The End,” which begins with a synth groove that shares similar style as Linkin Park. The bass remains heavy while the drums fall into a light, catchy beat. Then there is “Let Me In” that is certainly more stripped down compared to the rest of the album. While still holding a heavy synth intro, the Hardcore bop captivates, making for a fiery combustion finish.
Overall, Secrets is proof of the band’s growth over the past few years. The first half of the album takes a while to get a groove, but through the path, the band’s brilliance is undeniable. As a band, SECRETS becomes more comfortable to experiment with different sounds and switch up the game as the album goes on. The variety and honesty is admirable, and for these reasons CrypticRock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.