Review: Secrets – Everything That Got Us Here

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With the mid-to-late aughts creating such a quagmire of melodic metalcore acts, it’s easy to see why one might want to abandon ship in favor of fresher waters. But with a risk of alienating an established fanbase or falling prey to the siren song of radio rock pretension that continues to burrow it’s way into the scene, how do you change course without losing credibility? Sometimes a little tweaking is all that’s needed.

You can buy Everything That Got Us Here on iTunes.

You can buy Everything That Got Us Here on iTunes.

San Diego post-hardcore outfit Secrets may have found the formula for reinvention on their latest release, Everything That Got Us Here. Despite the loss of the band’s second unclean vocalist (Aaron Melzer) in as many releases earlier this year, Secrets have soldiered on, but have made some significant sonic upgrades that serve the band well without feeling cheap or inauthentic.

Melzer’s replacement, Wade Walters, also handles bass duties, but his vocal role is one of support – indeed, guitarist Richard Rogers is now the voice of Secrets. Already deemed as one of the strongest (and most underrated) vocalists in the scene, Rogers shines mightily in this new revamped version of Secrets. No longer confined to chorus duty, Rogers’ melodies are more enticing than ever.

While remnants remain of Secrets’ metalcore roots, Everything That Got Us Here is more akin to the self-titled era of Saosin than to your garden variety Rise-core. Lead single “Rise Up” is a fist-pumping anthem, fueled by the soaring vocals of Rogers, relying on guitars and drums to lift the song higher without the need to bring it all crashing down. Although there’s not much meat to the track lyrically, the song serves as a microcosm for this new melodically aggressive rendering of Secrets.

During the best moments of Everything That Got Us Here, the band show flashes of the metalcore crunch that fueled Fragile Figures, but rely much more on pop sensibilities and driving guitar melodies. On the stellar “Half Alive”, Rogers seethes in response to scene apathy, singing “Blend in, blend in to the mess, it’s better to fit in / They scream give in, give up what’s left of your innocence”. His fuming chorus of, “Ring me out to dry / Nothing left inside cause my passion left me half alive / Have I lost the fight? / Was it meant to be or should I let this die?” is a highlight of the album.

Similarly, “The Man That Never Was” is another big step forward for the band with a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on They’re Only Chasing Safety. Even when Secrets reveal their influences, the take is refreshing enough that it doesn’t feel re-hashed. “In Loving Memory” may be the closest the band comes to relying on old tendencies, with Walters screaming, “Agony is my reality” over a powerful breakdown, but even this rendering feels more inspired than you’d expect.

Even so, Everything That Got Us Here has its flaws – “For What it’s Worth” is a wannabe pop punk track that falls flat thanks to some uninspired songwriting, while the acoustic “The One With No One” attempts to capture the spark that made this summer’s Renditions so pleasing, but ends up feeling hollow. These blemishes are certainly acceptable in light of the band’s overhaul and don’t detract from how fun the rest of this record is.

In light of this year’s member upheaval, no one would have blamed Secrets for hanging it up. Instead, the band regrouped and pieced together the best album of their career thus far. Everything That Got Us Here is an acknowledgement of how turbulent the ride has been, but with a slick new sound and a solid album under their belt, chances are that clear skies lie ahead.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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