The Secret | Interview with Michael Bertoldini

[The Secret]

Italy's The Secret is surely one of the most bewitching, uncompromising and feral bands I have come across in the last few years. Their third full-length effort “Solve et Coagula” marks the beginning of a partnership with Southern Lord and sees the Italian four-piece thrust and pillage their way thru twelve new tracks, all seething with the fury of a starving and enraged pit bull. The Secret are furious and show no signs of benevolence. I guess it’s imperative to ask, who dared to piss in your cornflakes?

“There are too many reasons to be pissed at the moment, politics, religion, cultural downfall, the country we live is moving towards self disintegration day after day and I really see no easy solution to this. This band wants to be a kind of outlet for all the negative inputs we're bombarded with every day by the media. Spitting out our disgust has probably no affect on the whole situation, but at least is an honest response to this.”

“Solve et Coagula” follows up your second recording for the defunct Goodfellow records “Disintoxication” and initial listens reveal that it’s a more ferocious and direct record. What were your goals for the new record in comparison to previous works?

“This time we wanted to write a much more straightforward album and we tried to pay more attention to song writing and to the flow of the songs so we ended up using simple and more classic song structures. Our previous work is more complex, but right after the recording of "Disintoxication" we immediately felt we put too many ideas in every song and the result was kind of weird and left us dissatisfied. After those recordings we played live on a regular basis and we realized that the kind of music on "Solve et Coagula" is what we're doing best. Fast, dark, short heavy songs.”

One of the most compelling aspects of “Solve et Coagula” is the way the songs evolve from slow-droning doom to a savagely fast blend of grind and black-metal so naturally. The Secret has an identity and a sound all of their own that’s extremely difficult to place in one category. If you had to underline a specific genre for The Secret what would it be?

“Honestly we don't really care much about labels. We're definitely a band with a strong hardcore/punk background and we're proud of it but our music is basically a mix of grind, hardcore and metal.”

What are your musical influences? What are the bands that shaped you guys as musicians?

“I listened to tons of early 90's black metal when I was a kid, I was seriously into early Immortal, Darkthrone, Burzum, "Nemesis Divina" era Satyricon and some death metal like Entombed. Then I started going to hardcore shows when I was 16 and I discovered a completely new world. I'm really into Scandinavian music; a lot of grind/crust/death metal stuff.”

On the record, the production is raw and brutal, but still manages to preserve a deep aura of darkness about the whole thing, which sounds perfect for The Secret’s music. I guess that you’re quite pleased with the work of Converge’s guitarist and renowned producer Kurt Ballou?

“Working with Kurt was absolutely a great experience and I really hope to have the chance to work again with him in the future. He made us feel comfortable and did a great job of finding the right sound for our songs. He's a person who is easy to deal with and was respectful of the choices that the band made.”

What are your personal and professional thoughts on Kurt Ballou, and from your experience what are the specific hallmarks of his productions that makes him so sought after?

“I think that Kurt's best quality is his willingness to find the right sound for every band he works with, and not employ the same ideas for every project he works on. I like his view on heavy music and I don't really like overproduced metal records with computer drums and everything. I like to listen to a band playing for real, even if sometimes it means that their record is not gonna sound perfect.”

What is your current favourite theme from the new album and why?

“My favourite song is probably "Where it Ends". It was the first song we wrote for this album and in some very random way it sums up most of the things we wanted to say in just 50 seconds. That song created a new aesthetic for our music and I really like the lyrics of that song.”

So what’s “1968” about? It’s the year that Vietnam War breaks off and it’s also the year that Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are murdered.

“1968 has been a year of big cultural and political turmoil here in Europe. A lot of things changed that year, it's been pretty much a new page in our cultural history and brought young European people new hopes for a new way of living free from formality and more traditional mindset of the past. It's been pretty much a big illusion of change since a lot of things really degenerated in '69, summer of love transmuted in the summer of death and all the correlated events happened in Europe and in the States.
We wanted to try to speak about that moment, still free from disillusion and defeat.
It's funny how most of the people who started that revolution have become part of the main cause of the horrible political situation we're now living in our country. Anyway, we still think it's been an undeniable moment of true downfall of dogmas that will always remain important.”

The Latin title of the album means “dissolve and coagulate” and is one of the maxims of alchemy. Is there a common lyrical theme running through “Solve et Coagula”, some of the titles suggest topics that are rooted in reality and daily life, is that right?

“Solve et Coagula is a call for necessary destruction to start something from new from its foundations.
The common lyrical theme is pretty much the loss of faith in everything, politics, religion, social system, people in general.
No teachings, it's just an emotional reaction this world.”

What is the metal and hardcore scene like in Italy, are there any new bands worthy of mention?

“Italy is absolutely not known for its strong heavy music culture and background but there are some good bands around. I think that things could be much better if our national media would start paying more attention to what is happening here, as opposed to covering bands only after American labels and media promote them.”

More info at:

The Secret - Where it Ends