Published Oct 23, 2010From their creepy imagery and dark atmosphere to a self-defined "pro-cacophony" motivation, Italy's the Secret are everything we've been loving and longing for since the dissolution of Toronto, ON's purveyors of abrasion Cursed. Sinister and harsh, the hyperactive coupling of chaotic screeching with detuned riffs and pummelled drums/cymbals inside of black metal dissonance on third outing Solve Et Coagula is equally nightmarish and exciting. In fact, one might argue that the Secret are incrementally more ravenous and incensed than their Canuck counterparts, due in no small part to both gratingly endless internal shuffles as well as combative frustration with seeing their beloved extreme musical genres spiral down the shaft of disillusionment and confusion. Embracing that irritation, the quartet detonate with imposing malice, but only after letting their barbed, dirty wick burn like a dynamite fuse soaked in acidic bile. Recorded by genre great Kurt Ballou (Trap Them, Converge), Solve Et Coagula benefits from abilities that perfectly encapsulate the band's hardcore ferocity channelled through metal's most intense variants. To that extent, this gruesome beast does "dissolve and coagulate," lumbers and scuttles towards its prey while uttering these freakish sounds like something out of a Japanese horror film. Only this flick never relents.
With Solve Et Coagula, do you feel you're creating a new strain within extreme music?
Guitarist Mike Bertoldini: I really don't know and most importantly, I don't care. What we want to do is play the music we love, whatever it is. I [don't] think it's our role to predict what place we're going to have in the contemporary music scene.
You're unimpressed with new music?
The concept of "new" is totally relative; the only thing I can say is that we want distance from a big part of what heavy music has become lately.
I don't like how a part of heavy metal and hardcore music has become a joke. I don't want to sound overly pretentious, but I think it's pretty sad to see how many younger bands have totally lost touch with what hardcore and metal were meant to be at the beginning. I don't care about listening to 250-BPM copy/pasted double bass, 300 breakdowns per song, Autotune, "emotionally-driven" choruses and a 16-year-old kid screaming about shooting his 15-year-old ex-girlfriend in his imaginary world.
What is important for the Secret?
We care about doing our own thing and being an honest band. That's it.
The Secret have a pretty tumultuous history.
Our singer Marco [Coslovich] and I have known each other since we were young and both played with local bands for years. When our bands broke up we wanted to start a new project together and play loud, aggressive music. We teamed up with ex-members of my previous band and after a few months, we went in the studio with everything but a clear idea of what we wanted to do. We recorded our debut album, Luce. We sent copies of a rough mix to labels and Canadian label Goodfellow Records signed us. We were young, inexperienced and all wanted to embark in divergent musical directions.
That can be a good thing. What would you say was your main motivation/goal musically?
We basically just wanted to be in a hardcore band and play shows. We were very confused, as far as the direction we wanted to take, and our older material is definitely the result of that confusion. We changed at least 30-percent of the songs while recording in the studio. We got into arguments because of the songs every single day. Those sessions were a real nightmare, but also a useful experience. It was 2003 and everything in that scene was totally different.
It was a steep learning curve. Have the internal issues changed for Solve Et Coagula?
Everything changed a lot after the [first] album came out. We lost band members a million times and we even stopped playing for a while. We regrouped probably less than a year before recording our second album, Disintoxication [Goodfellow, 2008], with a new line-up and mindset. I have no problem saying that it was a completely new band with a new sound and new ambitions. We rehearsed hard nearly every day. We toured and played shows regularly and tried to take the band thing much more seriously. Our sound also changed a lot and we started playing mostly fast paced hardcore/grind-influenced music.
I do hear lots of grind mixing with Converge, elements of black metal and even some death punk.
I listened to tons of early '90s black metal when I was a kid. I was seriously into early Immortal, Darkthrone, Burzum, Nemesis Divina-era Satyricon and some death metal like Entombed. Then I started going to hardcore shows when I was 16 and I discovered a completely new world. I'm really into Scandinavian music, a lot of grind/crust/death metal stuff. Converge are one of the most influential bands of the last decade and they've been an undeniable influence for us, especially at the beginning of our career.
How diverse are influences within the band?
We all listen to a lot of different styles, from black metal to cinematic music, classical, country folk and rock. Every member of the band has his own musical taste and interests, but we all agree on the kind of music we want to play. Our drummer [Corte] and I are the only ones with a "real" metal background, while Marco and bass player Enrico [Uliana] have never been great metal fans.
What are Solve Et Coagula's lyrical influences?
Marco wrote all the lyrics for this album. Most of the lyrics are a reflection of the times and the country we're living in. I think that the main lyrical concept of the record is the loss of faith in pretty much everything: politics, religion, media.
What do you hope people get from the Secret?
That's a tough question; I don't think about it really often. The band are pretty much an outlet for our negative sides and playing is a very cathartic experience, so it's something we're doing mostly for ourselves.
How do you feel about Southern Lord coming on board by just hearing demos?
It's just great. Working with a label like Southern Lord is an honour for us. The fact we got signed just by sending out a demo shows how SL's foundations are based on music and not secondary factors. Greg Anderson is a very intelligent person and a talented musician. I'm very proud to be working with him. He released and recorded many records I love and listen to regularly, and we feel great about being part of such an amazing roster.
Having Goodfellow and Southern Lord supporting you, it seems as though North America is your greatest champion.
Italy is a weird country and it's definitely not famous for its musical tradition. To be honest, everything music-related totally sucks here. Even if it sounds totally [like] nonsense, most of the time Italian media needs to have North American "approval" before giving bands a chance. We've never been contacted by any Italian label. I'm not complaining; we're actually happy to work with North American labels. Sometimes it is just frustrating to realize we're living in a third-world country when it concerns music. (Southern Lord)