Southern Lord just keeps rolling. This time they offer the fourth album by The Secret, “Agnus Dei”. No one can ever accuse Southern Lord of coloring inside the lines, in fact it seems at times they go out of their way to blacken everything outside of the lines, and this certainly extends to The Secret. Coming forth with an aggression packed blackened, crusted, set of tracks firmly entrenched outside of said lines. In the vein of fellow filth mongers Black Cobra, Darkthrone and Mutilation Rites, they put forth an atmosphere that transcends many genres. Housing elements of grind, black, and doom style metal assembled is a ferocious onslaught of rapid fire notes.
Their nod to grind comes in the form of 55 seconds of ‘Daily Lies’. It was you would want and expect start full force, end full force and say what you need to fast and furious. Of course most of these tracks are fast and furious.They just lay the noise and don’t mess around with filler on this track. We descend into doomy territory on ‘Heretic Temple’ the longest track on the release. Here the lads mess about a bit, getting great build up, vocals are proper pleading screams, demonstrating the versatility of the group. It warms the cold steel heart to see a band not afraid to try different things on a release. It all works together presenting the darker things we are all drawn to at one time or another.
‘The Bottomless Pit’, ‘Obscure Dogma’, and ‘Seven Billion Graves’ work a great ending flow and feel. Pit jumps on your chest immediately, really having that old school black metal ferociousness. Obscure gives you a breather as it builds into its crescendo of riffs and pounds, leaving graves to deliver the death knell. An omen of the unwanted end, exhausted, shell shocked but wanting more. The standout track for me is the aforementioned doomier number ‘Heretic Temple’ seemingly only because I am aficionado of the doom. But I simply love the progression of the three tracks pits, dogma and graves. To me it really shows how they can combine not only varying styles to near perfection but then sequence them properly to really give a fantastic wilderness to be explored and savored many times over.
Almost mercifully, we are put out of our misery having just run a marathon through the blackened filth of “Agnus Dei”. It’s a fantastic mix of elements of the most extreme parts of metal assembled into something that works so well it’s a must add for all of us extreme metal fans. This is certainly not for the faint at heart, if your constitution is up for the challenge, go put The Secret on at its highest volume setting and see if you can survive the onslaught. Be warned, it’s stacked with riffs and pounds aimed at inducing not only neck damage from spontaneous head banging but chest injury from the continuous waves of beats that pummel you through each of the tracks.