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A Breach Of Silence - Secrets

A Breach Of Silence
Secrets
by Devin C. Baker at 30 March 2017, 10:53 AM

To paraphrase Maya Angelou: when a band tells you who they are, believe them the first time. Rather than trust my ears and musical comparative skills in assigning a generic umbrella to Brisbane, Australia's A BREACH OF SILENCE, who released their third full-length, “Secrets” on Eclipse Records this past February, I'll believe them when they tell me what they do is “Powercore”. According to their label's promotional materials, this constitutes a “unique mix of modern Metalcore and Power-Metal vocal breakdowns,” so there you go. It is within those parameters that I approach discussion of their output.

Before even exploring the accuracy of the “Powercore” label (again, theirs, not mine) let's note that elements of Power-metal—or at the very least, PROTO-Power-metal—are no stranger to Metalcore. One hears the same Classic metal and NWOBHM influences in the work of groups like UNEARTH and ALL THAT REMAINS that one detects in the stylings of Power-metal heavy-hitters such as HAMMERFALL, IRON SAVIOR or EDGUY.. The difference would tend to lie in what elements each genre's artists choose to draw inspiration from. While gallops, twin guitars and all-for-one lyrical themes are surely to be found in both Power-metal and Metalcore, and find their roots in the grand-uncles of late-70s/early-80s metal, the vocal influence is worn proudly on Power's sleeve, while Metalcore, even in its clean-singing passages, would rarely draw comparisons to Dickinson, Dio and Halford, let alone more contemporary singers of the melodic and triumphant. Intriguing to see what comes of a band applying those lessons to Metalcore.

Well, let me say this: the formula worked really well…on their first album, 2012's “Dead Or Alive”. A self-released, rough-around-the edges debut, it featured a different singer than on “Secrets” and their sophomore release “The Darkest Road”. Not to dwell on their earlier work, I'll just say original singer Corey Staples delivered a majestic, weighty clean vocal with just enough extra showmanship sauce poured on to often echo Matt Barlow's work with ICED EARTH—big voice. Replacement and “Secrets” singer Rhys Flannery has less force behind his pipes, if his technique is perhaps a bit stronger. Harsh passages, one mightn't know the difference at first, but his cleans fall in line with a lot of standard Metalcore, down to the post-pop-punk SoCal accent so many seem to adopt. Still, the Power-metal vocal approach is notable in the Freedom Call-esque group-chorus approach. Which brings us to the current record. Melodically (and if it picked up the pace and galloped a bit) the high-guitar led instrumental lead-in to opening track “Falling Away” could open a BLIND GUARDIAN tune, sure, then the vocal comes in. It's not really sung, but that's not really a harsh vocal…oh…my…god, he's RAPPING! No, really, right out of the gate, we're treated to some ersatz Zack DeLaRocha rhyme-spitting, right down to the lyric “we're bringing the system down!” Wow.

The hip-hoppy cadence emerges again on second track “Ride Or Die” with a combination of shouts and growls, with clean-sung choruses, but with scarcely a semblance of Power Metal, sorry. Here's the thing, though: it ain't bad. I'm not a lover of the teen-angst vocal approach of so much melodic Metalcore, but Flannery has a range of tones he brings to his singing, and his voice has character and propels the songs quite well. Choruses often feature vocal harmonies with bassist Blair Layt, though not in a stacked-up “we are the conquering horde” kind of way, but musically appropriate.  “Undefeated” exemplifies this. Instrumentally, this is a very restrained, even subtle album. Though guitarists Cosgrove and Dabelstein are clearly an exceptional twin-guitar attack, focus is really on creating a structure, base and foundation for the songs—wanky solos are few. The leads we do get are masterful and expressive. Riffs aren't basic or simple, but they aren't needlessly showy or complex for complexity's sake.  Electronic elements are used, but mostly understated, as on the harmony-rich chugger “Buzz Killington.”

At thirteen songs and just shy of an hour, “Secrets” could have done with some judicious editing. With so much rap-singing and the restraint of much of the riffing, songs get samey after a while. The mid-section lags with two electro-assisted piano-intro'd balladesque numbers back-to-back. I mean, sure, they both get big, heavy and breakdowny, but it all comes off like the most maudlin of Def Leppard's bad years.  Also, no one needs a Metalcore cover of The Weeknd (“Shameless”). No one. On the upside, it's followed by a solid four-on-the-floor rocker with nifty shades of The Cure, “Dethroned”. They close out the proceedings with “Sugar And Spice” a droll stab at Hair-metal confections like WARRAN’s “Cherry Pie”–it's absolutely unnecessary but pitch-perfect and amusing. It also features two distinctly different lead vocals, the other presumably being Layt. Uh, guys? This dude can sing. Let him do it more.

So they tell us they're “Powercore” so I believed them. Based on that, this album fails to deliver. The answer is, they need to stop saying that. Their earlier music bore out that moniker, and that's all well and good, but clearly A BREACH OF SILENCE have grown beyond that and should leave the handle behind. Though over-long and far from earth-shattering, “Secrets” shows a solid melodic Metalcore band with serious songwriting chops and the instrumental wherewithal to back it up. The sound of the production is refreshingly dynamic, its compression far from brick-wall levels, a rarity in modern Metal, and especially among the “Cores”. I'd go so far as to say, if they loosened up the songwriting, unleashed their instruments some more, but exercised their restraint on cutting needless filler off their next record, they could have a powerful formula on their hands.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.Falling Away
2.Ride Or Die
3.Undefeated
4.Secrets
5.Nightcrawler
6.Fair Weather Friends
7.Buzz Killington
8.The Revelator
9.A Better Place
10.Broken
11.Shameless
12.Dethroned
13.Sugar And Spice
Lineup:
Mat Cosgrove – Guitar
Blair Layt – Bass/Vocals
Rhys Flannery - Lead Vocals
Kerrod Dabelstein – Guitar
Michael Gee – Drums
Record Label: Eclipse Records
     


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Edited 26 March 2019
 

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