The Ascent

Written by: PP on 24/05/2012 03:20:23

A slight electronic backdrop opens "The Ascent", the debut album by San Diego based Secrets, before the band proceeds into generic one chord breakdown hell straight away. Not exactly the best impression to give when introducing yourselves to the world for the first time, but fortunately the band redeems itself with a ridiculously catchy high-pitch clean vocal chorus shortly after, which imprints itself into your DNA immediately after you hear the first instance of it. The song is "Genesis", and I honestly can't get over how catchy it chorus is and how sad it is that the remainder of the song surrounds it with such generic drivel of the kind you see from other electronic metalcore bands like Attack! Attack! and Asking Alexandria.

This is a repeating pattern throughout "The Ascent", where the band demonstrates their impeccable sense for writing a brilliant, super-catchy chorus that should have the entire emo/post-hardcore music scene singing along at pretty much every one of their concerts, yet fail miserably at constructing anything legitimately intelligent or noteworthy during the non-chorus parts. These mainly consist of one chord breakdowns and unimaginative instrumentation that really ruins the overall impression of the album, which is even supplemented by lyrics far superior to most bands in the genre such as "maybe you really should learn how to love a machine?" on "The Heartless Part". It's unfortunate, because had Secrets been able to string together meaningful passages in between their fantastic choruses (true for every song, literally), there isn't a doubt in my mind that they wouldn't be the next big thing in the scene since Saosin, Emarosa and others. Speaking of those bands, the Secrets singer follows a similar tone/pitch outline as them just on a lower octave, so he has the beloved strain on his voice that gives it character and makes it sound so much more interesting than the average high pitch clean singer in the style. You need but one listen to a song like the appropriately titled "Melodies" to appreciate just how good this guy is at creating monumental sing alongs and hair-raising moments of emo/post-hardcore godhood.

So that poses a problem when evaluating "The Ascent". Part of me really wants to reward the singer for re-igniting my interest in the post-hardcore bands with a high-pitch clean singer (probably because he never sounds as whiny as most of them) for his sheer brilliance throughout the CD, but the rest of the band do their best to prevent me from doing that by being completely devoid of any sort of musical understanding of song dynamics or flow, much like Famous Last Words whom I reviewed earlier today. The worship of generic, boring breakdowns is ridiculous and does absolutely nothing to any of the songs, which makes it all the more harder to understand why they are there. Is it because the band simply are not better instrumentally yet? Is it because they just didn't know what to do after a chorus, and to avoid leading directly into the next chorus, they decided to pace themselves with some simple synchronized head banging in between? Whatever the reason, Secrets desperately need to remove these from their songs and replace them with better material, if for no other reason than to reward their fantastic singer with a backing band that he deserves. Score reflects the strength of the choruses versus an absolutely awful instrumental backing, so you have an idea just how good this guy is.


Download: Melodies, The Heartless Part, The Best You Can't Be, Blindside
For the fans of: Woe, Is Me, The Color Morale, Memphis May Fire, Saosin, Emarosa
Listen: Facebook

Release date 17.01.2012
Velocity/Rise Records

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