Best of 2016 Playlist

December 13, 2015

SECRETS - "Everything That Got Us Here" Review

Possibly our last album review for the 2015 year! SECRETS will wrap up 2015 for us with their 3rd album "Everything That Got Us Here". The band has been slowly rising in popularity, and, to the delight of their record company, in sales. SECRETS signature blend of hardcore verses, memorable guitar riffs, and pop-influenced choruses doesn't sound like anything new. But their particular take on post hardcore has earned them a loyal fanbase. If you haven't already checked out this band, you're missing out. Click this (link) to buy the album on iTunes. And be sure to keep an eye out more SECRETS coverage in our "Featured Post". 

Back in October, SECRETS simultaneously announced their new album and their new lineup with unclean vocalist Wade Walters. It was a huge surprise to learn Aaron Melzer had decided to depart after a 2 and a half year stint with the band. But the band has found a worthy replacement. Walters not only captured Melzer's gruff, at times gritty vocals, but his stage energy and presence. Though no one can replace the original, or the original's replacement, R.I.P. SECRETS con Aaron Melzer (2013-2015).

To read our reviews of the album's first two singles, "Left Behind" and "Rise Up" please click the respective links. In short, they're not huge improvements on the band's past work, but they are indicators of the new direction. Continuing the departure from the band's initial metalcore, melodic hardcore sound, this album infuses more mainstream rock and pop. And
 this seems to be the logical progression in the band's sound. In a similar fashion to Bring Me The Horizon's move into electronic rock, SECRETS has made this their most accessible album yet. The choruses, and Rogers' parts overall are very poppy and full of the same earworm templates that you can find in songs from All Time Low or Sleeping with Sirens recent work. This album is a blend of radio rock and SECRETS' signature post hardcore (Nothing will ever be as heavy or chuggy as "The Oath" or "Blindside") 

Of all the tracks, the album opener is the most jarring. Opening tracks are the first thing listeners hear, you want them to be attention grabbing and catchy. This intro, appropriately named "Intro", is... well a huge surprise. It's the band's take on acapella, with a little baroque pop. Not sure what the band was thinking, but they should have left the acapella to Pentatonix. And then switching to the much heavier "Rise Up" amplifies the contrast between the sounds. Only pro in the "Intro" is Rogers' ever impressive vocal talents. 

"Learn to Love" is an album highlight. Rogers delivers the album's strongest chorus, which pairs perfectly with Walters' unclean performance. It's very similar to "How We Survive", but "Learn to Love" is much more mainstream rock than hardcore. The quick driving pace makes this a very punk rock infused song, while the breakdowns and pop choruses keep the band's signature.
 "Half Alive", and "Turn the Page"  match "Learn to Love" in mainstream accessibility while still holding onto the band's usual brand of post hardcore. In fact the band's strongest moments are when they go heavy. The pop choruses, sleek and stylish guitar riffs, and heavy verses are what fans initially fell in love with. But going completely radio friendly doesn't work for them.

"For What It's Worth" is written in the same vein as "Maybe Next May". Very poppy, and very Tyler Carter-esc. Where "Maybe Next May" had a lot more emotion and energy, this track feels like a bad attempt at a repeat song.  It's one of those tracks that's neither good, nor bad. Just filler. So if you want to skip it, we don't blame you. It's a new low for the band. It comes off as cheesy and over produced. Lyrics like "Last night I spied my pretty baby with a stranger, more than a friend. It's fine, I'm fine." are as generic as they come. But at the same time horribly catchy. So you have to give them points for that. 

The instrumentals are as strong as ever, though we'd like to see the band get a permanent bassist. That's where the band starts to lack. Their rhythm section relies heavily on Joe English's solid drumming. And since the departure of Michael Owens, we haven't heard a bass line as good as the one in "Live Together, Die Alone". Tom Denney's production on this album is also a bit of a let down, as he puts emphasis on vocals. The guitars get a little muddled, which is a surprise considering Denney's backlog of albums. Usually there's a strong instrumental presence, but here Risecore is very, very evident. 

And that production, the overall dominance of Rogers' vocals, can be a bit much on certain songs. The band underuses their new unclean vocalist, something they didn't do in their sophomore effort. It's clear while they were recording they hadn't settled on a new vocalist yet, so they let Rogers' take the helm. Hopefully their next release will give both vocalists a chance in the spotlight. Because, to be fair, Rogers' had his moment on the band's acoustic EP. He even tries to duplicate the acoustic success of the EP, and of "Sleep Well, Darling" in the album's closer "The One with No One". Needless to say, the closer in "Fragile Figures" is the superior. 

Summary -

The album is a must-listen to, there's no doubt on that front. But it's dancing on the line of infectiously catchy and generic. So we're kinda of on the fence about it. If the band was aiming to write something safe and fun, they succeeded. But seeing as their last post-lineup switch release saw the band embracing the changes, and coming into their own, this is disappointing. SECRETS swaps their heavy influences for radio friendly choruses, and, at times, poorly written lyrics. The moments where the band shines are when they go heavy, and stick to what they're good at. Recommended for fans of We Came as Romans, The Amity Affliction, and Issues.

Favorite Tracks - "Learn to Love", "Left Behind", "In Loving Memory", and "Half Alive"

Rating - 7.5 to 8/10