The Secret Steal the Show @ Echo/Echoplex, 03/13/11

This guest post comes from Genji from Los Angeles.  Look for more metal/punk posts from our California correspondent…

Sunday evening I was at the Echo/Echoplex here in LA for a double feature of metal, two separate shows for the price of one, separated only by a small staircase.  The late show which would feature Red Fang, Weedeater, Zoroaster and Kvelertak were to play downstairs at the Echoplex and obviously were the bigger draw of the evening.  If you want to read a more in-depth review on Weedeater and Zoroaster you should definitely read Martini’s write up on them as I thought both blew the roof off the place (sorry Dixie Dave if the analogy hits a little too close to home!).  This review however, is about the earlier show upstairs at the Echo and focuses on one of the more promising bands I came across last year, The Secret.

The metal matinee started off sometime after 3 in the afternoon with Seven Sisters of Sleep, Low Places and Graf Orlock starting off the metal double-feature, each of whom I missed.  I had already started the day late because of the time change so I was slow getting over to the venue.  I was a little bummed that I missed Graf Orlock, as their Doombox ep was pretty good, but I was mostly there to see The Secret and was happy to get there just in time.

For those who don’t know who The Secret are, they are a four piece out of Italy that play grindcore with a sludge feel to it, not unlike Nails or Black Breath.  However, they differ slightly in that they have a darker vibe, more of a black metal aura around them if you will.  Last year’s album Solve et Coagula just missed out on my top 20 records of the year, earning an honorable mention and really impressing me with it’s dark sound and fury, needless to say I was very excited to see them perform live.

The tone for The Secret was set as four shadowy figures appeared on a sinister, red-backlit stage.  Once there, they began crawling into the slow, swelling feedback that evolved into the sludgy opener that is Cross Builder.  The crowd, mesmerized and waiting for the bomb to drop, got just that as the band exploded into the blackened grind of Death Alive. Once into their set, they proceeded to rip into a good portion of the Solve album with sick blasts like Antitalian, Weathermen and Double Slaughter then continued bashing the crowd over the head with some older songs, whipping by impressively at break-neck speed.  Solve album closer 1968 ended the set and the band disappeared into the murk of the Echo in a haze of feedback, leaving me with a smile on my face.

Overall I thought the band were impressive live.  My one gripe was that the bass drum sounded like it was buried in the mix and I felt like the power of the songs suffered a bit because of it.  It wasn’t a deal breaker for me since I’m familiar with them, but for future shows I hope they get a better mix because I think they have the sound and style that will win a lot of people over.  One thing I did like was the backlighting look.  I just like the darker, evil atmosphere and sense of mystery it creates with a darker band like this, it’s a great little touch to the overall feel of the band and their performance.  Not that they needed it mind you, as they were loud, tight and energetic, it’s just the little memorable things that set apart the more exceptional bands from the rest of the pack, and make no mistake, The Secret are an exceptional band.  Can’t wait to see them come around again….

After running downstairs to catch the last song by Kevelertak (one of these days i will see them play a full set!!) I came back upstairs to catch the band Funeral Pyre.  Now, I have to admit I was confusing this band with another band called Denouncement Pyre from Australia who I’ve heard were pretty good, so I was excited to see this band, not knowing they weren’t the band I thought they were.  Confused?  Yeah me too.

Well the band I DID see, Funeral Pyre, are a five piece from LA and are more of a black/death metal hybrid with lots of blast beats and melodic breaks.  They came on and started thrashing all about, blast beating their way through their set.  Now those of you who know me know I’m not a huge fan of all blast beats/all the time, so even though technically I thought they were very good I can’t say I was overly impressed.  The thing I did like was the melodic breaks in their songs.  Whenever they would slow down, I felt the songs got really interesting and had me banging my head.  The rest of the time it was blast beat heaven/hell and my attention would drift until the next cool part.  One particular break however, had me scratching my head a bit when dual blues solos broke out.  HUH???  It was one of those WTF moments, not that it was bad at all, it just kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.  Very strange indeed, old song perhaps??

Anyways, by the end of their set I started to feel bad for them because you could tell they were a little disheartened as most of the audience were downstairs at the other show, which had started earlier than originally planned and in full swing at this point.  But there’s no crying in metal, life just sucks sometimes.  Aside from that, I felt Funeral Pyre put on very good performance, but personally, it was just too much blast beating for my tastes.  In my opinion, if they were a little more dynamic in their songwriting, cut back on the blast beats and focused more on the melodic aspects I think they could really create something great, then they would certainly be someone Iwould pay to see again.  Then again they wouldn’t be the band they are, or that I thought they were, or could be, or, nevermind….  I guess only time will tell.