There is a certain perverse irony behind the title of The Secret’s fourth album, Agnus Dei. The Italian metallic hardcore outfit’s latest offering bears the title of the peaceful Christian symbol of a holy lamb, yet presents itself as a wolf amongst the flock devouring the innocent beasts. While initially an intriguing and entertaining endeavor, repeated listens quickly reveal that this analogy would be more appropriately adjusted to describe Agnus Dei as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. For while The Secret provide a solid performance of the recent trend of sludgy, grind influenced hardcore, this lycan ferocity is padded down by certain wooly missteps.
The frigid howl of a mid-December tempest giving way to the serene warmth of what lay cloaked beneath the blanket of snow: both a summary of how Ukrainian black metal outfit Drudkh chose to open up their latest offering, Eternal Turn of the Wheel, and an accurate description of the evolution within black metal itself.
Taken merely at surface value, French black metal outfit Blut Aus Nord’s 777 trilogy (2011’s Sect(s) & The Desanctification and 2012’s Cosmosophy) could be interpreted as a unique and effective blend of Deathspell Omega’s chaotic black metal and Godflesh’s grinding industrial groove. Such a conclusion would mistakenly settle for genre tags rather than allowing the trilogy’s expansive sonic themes to define these three releases for the monoliths that they are. The core sensation lies within the plight of a delicate human soul being torn to shreds as infernal and divine forces both lust for ownership via a celestial tug of war. For moments of varying brevity, the spirit experiences respite in purgatory as the higher beings recuperate for another bought of soul reaping.