6 years have passed since Italian natives The Secret have put out something new and they have returned with vigor. Their recently issued EP “Lux Tenebris” encompasses a trio of abrasive tracks that swell with abhorrence and covers a surprising amount of ground in the space of 20 minutes. With a tenacious air about it right from the start, it executes everything on its own terms, building in intensity and complexity as it unfurls.

One of the two most striking talking points of this release is the complete abandonment of the minimalism heard in earlier releases in favor of a layered approach to the music which lends greatly to the overall atmosphere of the EP. This is complemented by the cover artwork, which is the second point. I really enjoyed studying its depictions and contrasts.

From the opening track “Vertigo”, the expectation is set high with a doom-sounding void of harmonic-dissonance laden guitars and a methodical procession of a set up. The band is in no hurry to set the tone or to force the listener into the soundscape they are laying out, gently and uncomfortably descending into crashes and percussive hits. Eventually this resolves into an onslaught of kick drums and instrumentation that is polyrhythmic before hitting into an extrusive groove, briefly, to ensure the listener is completely encompassed in the cyclonic slow march of sonic drippings from within the composition.

There’s a short intermission in the whirlwind before the second track “The Sorrowful Void” begins. Taking on a more Death Metal persona interjected alongside the Doom character of its predecessor, the track begins with a droning repetition of guitars and then bursts into an explosion of blast beats, grooving patterns, distorted growls and an uncomfortable atmosphere rife with claustrophobia and electricity. In particular, the usage of songwriting dynamics is striking. Switching timing feels frequently and with abandon as well as imposing a fuzz infused lead tone for good measure.

Bringing closure to the EP is “Cupio Dissolvi”, an absolutely epic monstrosity that continues the evolution of the preceding tracks and drives them hard into the territory of Grindcore. It is the most technically impressive track of the three and the longest at over 7 minutes. Again employing polyrhythms and unusual time signatures as well as changing keys at unexpected times when things start to slow down during the second half of the song when it returns to the thematic Doom sound prevalent throughout. The best way to describe this track simply is, mastication. It chews the listener to pieces and envelopes the resulting pulp.

As touched on earlier, while the sound design on this release is heavily layered, it is a very natural sounding production. The dynamic tone of the drums in particular is welcoming in character and sinuous in feel, occasionally speeding up slightly in sections to accommodate the mood. There is a sense that the sounds never stays in one place even though at various junctures the structure takes on a repeating motif. I’m obligated to give high praise to the inventive drumming style of Tommaso Corte.

The vocals are highly distorted and sit pretty far back in the mix making them difficult to understand. Fortunately they are more of a chaotic element than a central pillar of the songs so I guess vocalist Marco Colsovich performs his task effectively.

Bassist Lorenzo Gulminelli holds down solid grooves and is the most accessible player in the group. While he doesn’t do anything too flashy, he holds the melodic structures of the latter two songs intact while the guitars and drums flit about wildly.

Speaking of guitars, Michael Bertoldini took on a highly layered approach on this EP. Using his instrument to create depth through feedback, multiple types of distortion and fuzz, tremolo/string skipped picking and great use of repeating motifs that create a deep and textured musical expression. Between himself and Corte, there is an intimidating compulsion in their playing that propel the band beyond what they’ve done in their 15 year history.

My only complaint is that, even at roughly 20 minutes, it is far too short for this calibur of songwriting and I feel as though they could have taken this much further. Seeing as it is a bit of a departure of their normal style, perhaps they’re testing the waters. Thankfully the varied depth of the EP is expressive and hopefully this is just a presentation of what’s to come.

Grab your copy of Lux Tenebris HERE