Band: A Secret Revealed
Label: Lifeforce Records
Release Date: January 25, 2019
A Secret Revealed is a secret that needs to be revealed. Founded in 2012 in Würzburg, Germany, A Secret Revealed (ASR) released one full-length album titled The Bleakness in 2014. Five years later they finally return with Sacrifices, a hard-hitting post-metal album that makes a solid addition to any catalogue. Since The Bleakness, ASR has recruited Michael Heim, the ex-vocalist from Necrotted. With this new addition to their ranks (plus 5 years of experience), ASR no longer sounds like a Cult of Luna clone and have really started coming into their own sound.
So what is ASR’s sound? ASR defines themselves as a “post-metal” band that “explore[s] the musical boundaries between metal and post-core.” If you consider post-metal to be sort of a catch-all, this is an accurate description, because ASR is just a bit too varied to be comparable to a single band. “Grieved” and “The Isolation” draw heavily from black metal and almost sound like Lifelover, while “Old Ghosts” has an excellent groove and draws a lot of influence from The Ocean Collective. On the other hand, “The Downfall” feels like it could have been taken from a Defeater album.
This variety in no way dilutes the album or makes it less memorable. On the contrary, it provides the listener a wealth of diversity. For example, when “Grieved” starts, it has a grainy, authentic black metal quality to it – complete with terrible drum quality – that you normally wouldn’t expect from a band calling themselves “post-metal.” By the end of “The Isolation,” the production has shifted and everything feels clearer, and the end of “The Isolation” has some fantastic melodic lines that are a sharp contrast to some of the prior walls of sound.
“Ashes” is my personal favorite song on this album. It feels like a combination of everything I like about this band; it’s a combination of genres that works excellently. The chordal structures throughout are just dissonant enough to be interesting, but clear enough to give the song character. The melodies are haunting without being distracting. The way that the theme comes back around towards the end of the song shows some excellent development. My only complaint with this song is that it cuts off rather abruptly, which is a theme we’ll return to later.
“Empty Throne” again shows off ASR’s talent in both vertical and horizontal composition. The chords are beautifully built and show off a lot of diversity, and both the melodic line and the chordal progression show excellent form. The “breakdown” (I hesitate to call it that, but it’s somewhat fitting) at the end keeps the melodic line flowing. As a similar thought, “In Vain” has excellent growth, and the motion in the song really highlights the band’s compositional talent.
“Hollows” has some of the best drum work on the album, particularly in the transitions between sections. The interlude is very fitting and does wonders for the overall ambience of the song. However, “Hollows” is something of an outlier on the album, because most of the transitions are fantastic.
ASR seems to be a fan of a sort of “on off on off” compositional style. While listening to Sacrifices, you can tell that the band thinks in blocks. Each block is incredibly well written, but the transitions between sections seem half-hearted and even sloppy at times. As an example: “The Isolation” at first glance appears like a really well-composed song, and this is mostly correct. The “blocks” are fantastically written on their own. The problem is how ASR connects the blocks. There’s a very formulaic “long loud sections with short soft bridges” issue on Sacrifices. There’s not a whole lot of growth or development in most songs other than “In Vain.” Most songs, including “Ashes,” have abrupt endings that feel like they could have been wrapped up in a cleaner way. Transitions are important, particularly in a genre like post-metal.
Overall, Sacrifices is a great album and a huge improvement over “The Bleakness.” A Secret Revealed is an extremely talented band that creates enthralling ambience. The lack of fantastic transitions is only apparent once you really dig into the album, and “Sacrifices” is an excellent listen for anyone who wants to hear a really well-written outpouring of emotion.
2. The Isolation
4. Old Ghosts
5. Empty Throne
7. The Downfall
8. In Vain
Total Playing Time: 55:47
Jake has a bachelor’s degree in percussion, and currently works as a CPA in Tulsa, OK.