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Under the Pledge of Secrecy - Empire of Bastards Award winner

Under the Pledge of Secrecy
Empire of Bastards
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 01 December 2019, 4:24 AM

UNDER THE PLEDGE OF SECRECY is a German Extreme Metal band who released two full lengths and one EP since their inception in 2005. The Metal Archives lists the band as Deathcore/Grindcore.  I don’t disagree as they certainly have elements of those styles but they are also so much more.  Across the ten tracks presented on their second full length album, “Empire Of Bastards,” a large variety of styles and moods of the band are heard.

The first track is the intro “Renaissance,” a short piece that begins with symphonic undertones that fade away to the background while a sinister riff makes its way up front.  At the track’s end, Stefan lets lose a scream that leads into the title track, “Empire Of Bastards.” This song is a furious burner that doesn’t let up for the entire three and a half minute runtime. The grindcore elements of quick bursts of speed and overall nasty abrasiveness are present but the music is so much more complicated than grind.  By the time a minute as passed, quick bouts of double bass, militant snare attacks, metallic riffs, and screamed Death Metal vocals are all entangled together but instead of coming off messy, it presents itself in more of a Prog feel.

Thorsten really understands the purpose of letting the guitar speak for itself, he seems to effortlessly be letting the song song and riffs write themselves. The title track represents the album as a whole and what I feel they really pull off: controlled chaos. Each song has a lot going on in it but still finds a balanced focused to the dual effect of being really wild and energetic but not to the point where monotony sets in. I would say that the album is equally centered around riffs, drums, and vocals.  None of them steal the show from the other ones because each one is dialed up to eleven in terms of intensity.

Glass Palace,” ride the line between Death Metal and Deathcore but doesn’t pull punches with settling into some groove. The drums have a tight crispness to them, reminiscent of modern-day Black Metal but with the wild tendencies of Tech Death or even Prog. One of my favorite tracks is “A Vanguard Solution,” because the dynamics contained within are just so tightly executed. Atmospheric touches flourish around the edges of the song’s burgeoning moments.  After a furious assault for a few minutes, a beautiful executed melodic passage births from the crushed ruins.

Alpha Crusher,” is highlighted by some of the best riffs on the album and one hell of a vocal assault. The song started out in a very immediate way but by the 1:40 mark a clear crescendo begins to take place, with the guitars rising higher and higher. It culminates into a scream that fades the song away for a couple seconds before the song returns to more destructive leanings but sounds all the more intense. The final track, “The Unforeseen,” is a calm rest of water that transforms into a high wave that hits the shores hard at 2:52, leaving the rest of the song to be the audio path of destruction that was left behind in its wake.  This one switches back and forth between more a methodical approach and outright  lashings but it works so well that rather than being heard as a roller coaster of tempos, it is a journey of sound and song.

I highly recommend this to fans of Extreme Metal in general.   Metal is often micro-managed to sub genres within sub genres but UNDER THE PLEDGE OF SECRECY have crafted album for any lovers of the fast and heavy.  It has something for everyone and enough powerful dynamics behind each style to push it beyond the very boundaries of the genres they mix so well together.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Renaissance
2. Empire of Bastards
3. Glass Palace
4. Psychotic Eclipse
5. A Vanguard Solution
6. March of the Faceless
7. Sorcerer’s Apprentice
8. Euphoric Bliss
9. Alpha a Crusher
10. The Unforeseen
Lineup:
Thorsten S – Bass, Guitars
Stefan K – Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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