Saturday, October 7, 2017

Album review: Secret Rule—The Key to the World (2017)

Album cover

Album: The Key to the World
Artist: Secret Rule
Genre: Melodic/gothic metal
Label: Pride & Joy Records
Tracks: 13

*Review originally posted at the Female-Fronted Power Facebook page*

Over the last few years, Italy's Secret Rule has been anything but a secret: drawing attention to themselves by recruiting talent from some of the biggest bands on the scene, Secret Rule's 2015 album Machination got a lot of notice from fans of the genre, stoking curiosity as to what their next project had to offer. Led by the strong, harmonious voice of Angela Di Vincenzo and guided by the musical hand of Sonata Arctica keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg, Secret Rule was striking a path away from the prestigious guest stars, and was unveiling their new band lineup on their third album, The Key to the World.

However, it would not be completely bereft of guest appearances: ex-Sirenia vocalist Ailyn Gimenez would lend her voice alongside Angela's for a rousing merger of strong and sweet on the dark, gothic track “Imaginary World”. Another duet is heard on the song “Twin Flames”, this time with Henning Basse (of MaYan and Firewind fame), sounding very much like the yin and yang complementary twin souls as their voices blend together like fitting puzzle pieces.

After the short instrumental title track starts things off, the album is driving, melodic, hard-hitting, and bombastic, with Angela's voice leading the charge. The single “Song of the Universe” reminds me a lot of fellow Italian band Macbeth, and perhaps those who are fans of bands like Delain or Triosphere could find a lot to enjoy about Secret Rule as well. “Empty World” sounds like a cross between Delain and Lacuna Coil. Songs like “A Reverie”, “Are You Gone?” (my personal favorite), and “I’m You” (undoubtedly the most experimental track on the album) introduce some elements of electronica while still being positively brutal. “The Lost Child” is a straightforward rockin’ tune that is sure to get a crowd going, while “No More” is a sad, tender ballad that will prompt the lighters to come out at a live show. There are more gothic/symphonic-sounding tracks, such as “Trip Of Destiny” and the final track “100 Poets (Calliope)”, which sounds like a nightmare inside a music box!

For those who enjoyed the last Secret Rule album, they continue to build on that momentum, and there will surely be a lot here to please fans. If you are new to the band, this is as good as any a place to get started. With outstanding work like this, it won't be long before Secret Rule is no secret any longer!

Special thanks to Henk van Nieuwenhoven at Female-Fronted Power.

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