November 19, 2023

Secret Rule have produced a fine album with a handful of truly memorable tracks that display their full mastery of the symphonic metal format.

Secret Rule are a band from Rome that have been extraordinarily prolific by current standards. Their debut came out in 2015 and here, eight years later, they are already up to album number nine! They are a band that have been compared to groups such as Within Temptation, and listening to this latest release, there’s maybe a touch of Evanescence and Nightwish in there too.

Uninverse certainly opens in style with the meaty prog metal riffing of Disorder, although that’s after a curious introduction with sampled percussion and a burst of operatic vocals (that isn’t repeated). A distinctive element of their sound is the bass of Nick Pedron. In so many prog metal songs the energy level can drop when the vocals enter but Pedron’s bass pummels Disorder along with a gorgeously loose bass sound (reminiscent of Jean-Jacques Burnel). Pedron’s bass is a bit of a secret weapon. Just listen to the way he single-handedly drives along Time Zero, an otherwise ponderous and run of the mill track that’s illuminated by his bass playing.

As a rule (excuse the pun), Secret Rule write songs in the four-to-five-minute bracket, not going in for some of the lengthier and sometimes pretentious work of their competitors. That works well for them. Gravity On Us is probably the standout track, characterized by a brilliant guitar riff, a catchy melody, and plenty of swirling synths, and yet all this is within a concise framework. It’s almost a lesson in how to write a tight commercial symphonic prog song.  The shortest track, I Am, at little more than three minutes is another pretty commercial effort thanks to the clever declamatory operatic hook line and some rather wild synths. Another highlight is Multiple Me where keys take the lead with a fine Eastern-sounding theme. This is where Secret Rule are at their most epic and symphonic.

The pace doesn’t let up during the first nine energetic tracks which go through various shades of metal from symphonic to prog. There are two or three weaker numbers in there, but they tend to be carried by Angela Di Vincenzo’s powerful voice. The pace finally changes for the closing track, Black Hole. It opens with percussion and cool synths (sounding somewhat like Ultravox’s Vienna) before some warm acoustic guitar changes the tone. It’s a slow burner of a ballad and very much a showcase for some outstanding singing from Di Vincenzo, this time in a more earnestly emotional tone compared with the aggressive vocal style needed elsewhere. It’s a nice way to finish off the album although there is a bonus track too – a version of the title track for just piano and voice. Oddly, this piano version highlights the lovely chord progression and strong melody of the song which is rather hidden by the symphonic metal sheen of the full band version.

Uninverse represents a big step forward for the group. Secret Rule have produced a fine album with a handful of truly memorable tracks that display their full mastery of the symphonic metal format. It’s an album that will be enjoyed for sure by symphonic metal fans who like their songs concise, energetic, and heavy.