Review: The Secret – Lux Tenebris

Picture of the cover of The Secret's new EP Lux Tenebris.

It’s been six years since the last release from The Secret, and somewhere along the way they’ve completely mutated their Swedish-influenced crust punk sound. Now the Italian quartet returns to the world with three swirling tracks that lean heavily into a more spellbinding black metal sound from whose void rises a monolithic version of The Secret of yesteryear.

Spellbinding is exactly the word that should be used to describe Lux Tenebris. The EP kicks off with “Vertigo,” which is nearly six minutes of slowly churning tremolo-picked chordal riffs occasionally accompanied by tribal drums. “Vertigo” is also the summoning ritual by which “The Sorrowful Void” and “Cupio Dissolvi” come screaming into existence. Both songs take The Secret‘s blackened approach to OSDM and stretch them out well beyond a few minutes of pummeling riffs and into an elongated period of frozen aural suffering. Lux Tenebris is an exercise in hypnotism, in taking what is usually one or two minutes and just relentlessly beating you over the hear and across the ribs with it until you’re broken and bruised in a heap on the floor.

But it’s not like The Secret has never had a long song before in this style. Where Lux Tenebris fits in with their previous works is that it’s an examination of their sludgier elements through the lens of their usual fury. Lux Tenebris isn’t going to jump right out at you the first time with standout riffs and a few sections that’ll make you want to punch a hole in the wall. Lux Tenebris is slow and methodical, a trip through a spiraling black hole whose intricacies are hidden in the darkness. You’ll notice them and come to appreciate them over time, but it’ll take a few trips through to really pick out each individual aspect that makes all three compositions what they are.

For instance, the distortion-heavy ambient section on “The Sorrowful Void.” Listen through the static and you’ll notice that the generation of the noise is on a loop, setting the tempo for thundering toms to reenter the picture once more in the exact same way they greeted you in the introduction of the whole track. Even on the same track, listen to the guitar lines throughout instead of exploring the vocals or extraneous instrumentation. The riff hardly ever changes exact for some rhythmic variations, acting a centerpiece for the chaos to unfold around it. It’s details like that which lend an air of genius to the composition found on Lux Tenebris – all the minutiae add up to the bigger, hellish picture.

Lux Tenebris really does seem like an experiment and a good one at that. It steps back and overblows the band’s usual elements into something completely new and different. It’s the type of release that you’d best experience through headphones, the type of release that consumes you and puts you into an almost meditative state. Maybe thoughts of violence are the ones predominantly entering through your open mental door, but it’s meditative nonetheless. I hesitate to call Lux Tenebris great, but it’s a solid release and an interesting comeback from The Secret that should leave all their fans guessing as to what they’ll do next.

Buy Lux Tenebris by The Secret here.

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