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(54:07; Layered Reality Productions)
TRACK LIST: 1. Opening Sequence 3:01 2. The Ghost Syndicate 5:27 3. A President's Speech 6:00 4. Switch On 1:42 5. Blue Light Cage 4:50 6. We'll Become Dust 7:22 7. Going Home 5:45 8. Jump Right In 7:00 9. Breathe and Recover 13:00 LINEUP: Claudio Casaburi - bass Francesco Cavezza - guitars Luca Di Gennaro - keyboards, programming Lino Di Pietrantonio - vocals Antonio Mocerino - drums, percussion with: Derek Sherinian - keyboards Marek Arnold - saxophone Tom Gallagher - voice Joe Prestia - voice
Prolusion. Italian band SOUL SECRET was formed back in 2004, and from 2008 and onward they have been releasing new material at regular intervals, often with minor line-up alterations along the way too. The band have been attached to quite a few labels over the years, and for their fifth and most recent studio album "Blue Light Cage" the band have joined the ranks of Dutch label Layered Reality Productions.
Analysis. Soul Secret are known as a progressive metal band, and if I have read their history correctly they are one of numerous bands of this kind that started out as a Dream Theater cover band back in the day. As with many other bands of this kind and with that background, their music still features elements of the Dream Theater tradition of progressive metal as a part of their overall sound, but in the case of this album this is more of a minor feature. Despite the fact that a certain Derek Sherinian has a guest appearance this time around. Soul Secret's brand of progressive metal as of 2020 is quite the expressive affair, with the songs twisting and turning quite a bit in the individual journeys from start to finish. The band is fond of applying richly layered keyboard cascades as dominant aspects of their compositions, and while not everpresent this is so much of a staple that this aspect of the album is the one that sticks best in memory. In many different variations too, from energetic shred-oriented solo runs backed by more careful floating layers to classic organ and keyboard combinations. And every now and then with sequencesers, futuristic synth sounds and noise fragments used to good effect as flavoring. A second standout element is the use of playful, bouncy djent-oriented guitar details. From the dramatic and booming to the more tight, reigned in and subservient. What I'd describe as djentisms is most certainly another dominant part of the totality of this production. But in between massive and majestic and hard hitting sections Soul Secret has a few more tricks up their sleeve as well. Atmospheric laden, gentle interludes and intermissions come and go. More carefully applied throughout, but used to very good effect. Funky bass lines and tight, firm and dampened funky guitar licks appear here and there throughout, and slight detours into more purebred jazz-oriented landscapes is also on the menu here. In other words, there is a lot of variety at hand on this album, and more often than not the greater majority of the variety is explored in each individual song too. Quirky, expressive and at times really creative, performed to excellence and with a mix and production to match. I was rather impressed with this one, with the epic length concluding composition 'Breath and Recover' as the most spectacular creation at hand, at least in my opinion. All of this being said, this is an album that also features one element that may be somewhat divisive, and one that for my sake became rather detrimental. As is fairly often the case with me, this is about the vocals, which in this case are provided by singer Lino Di Pietrantonio. He does have a good vocal foundation, with good melody control and using what I experience as a subtly thin voice to good effect. The 'but' here is that I do find his vocals to have a distinct nasal quality to it as well, especially when using the lower range and also when he applies power and pressure to his voice. Hence I'd suggest that those who know they are generally sensitive to vocals to approach this album with a wee bit of caution.
Conclusion. Soul Secret have created an album that has many brilliant elements and strong compositions this time around. A really well made and well executed production, with quirky, challenging and creative compositions in general and with some truly amazing instrumental sections and strong instrument performances as the standout features. In my view the lead vocals aren't of the same calibre however, or at least they are distinct enough to be somewhat divisive, and for someone really sensitive to the vocal aspect of a production they may also be detrimental. But for those who aren't all that sensitive about the vocals on an album, "Blue Light Cage" will most likely be experienced as quite the compelling album, in particular for fans of expressive and creative varieties of classic era progressive metal.
Progmessor: October 2020
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