Last year saw Italians The Secret suddenly blow up beyond all expectations and the release of Agnus Dei gave them the push into public consciousness that they so rightly deserved. Heavy touring both last year—with the mighty Converge—and a European trek this Spring with the excellent deafheaven will bring that heady mix of hardcore, grind, and black metal to entirely new audiences. We caught up with Michael (guitar) just after the band finished their time with Converge and had some much needed time off.
Scene Point Blank: Agnus Dei sees your sound truly take off in terms of style and aggression, but there's also a control over that anger. How did the band approach the writing and making of the record? Did you decide to tackle things any differently this time around?
Michael: I think that recording Solve et Coagula and then playing a lot of shows in 2011 made us improve as musicians and gave us more awareness of the direction we wanted to take with the material for our new album. The writing process has been more organized than in the past and I think this influenced the way the songs are built as well as the final sound of the record.
"I think that tours with four bands playing blast beats for most part of their sets get boring after a while."
Scene Point Blank: The mix of styles within the record lends it a disarming quality—the super fast momentum is often counteracted with slower, doomier moments—did this come about organically during the process of making the record?
Michael: I'm convinced that when it comes to writing songs some dynamics can make everything sound more interesting. We like to write short fast songs but I think that those songs become more remarkable in the context of the whole record. Sometimes it's difficult to put everything you want to say in one 55-second song, but we tried to give the listener a more detailed picture during the whole length of the album.
Scene Point Blank: Is there a particular concept or theme running throughout Agnus Dei? Is there a message regarding religion to be found within the hostility of the record? And does your Italian heritage play a part in such lyrical and metaphorical themes?
Michael: The main theme of the record is sacrifice, and part of the songs deal with the religious perspective of sacrifice and its impact in our society and our country. We all grew up in Italy where religion still plays a big role in politics and has its financial interests still protected by the state. We've always been taught that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us all by committing the ultimate sacrifice for humanity, and that we have to somehow pay for our debts. It's a very controversial but interesting subject that has influenced our daily lives and the world we live in.
Scene Point Blank: The cover-art for Agnus Dei is quite dark and simple. What kind of impact and message are you sending with the image and how does it correspond to the content and lyrical themes of the record itself?
Michael: The cover art has been illustrated by an English artist known as Sin Eater and represents the interior of a bone church situated in Rome, Italy. He's a very talented guy and I really love his work. A church made of human bones is a very strong symbol and can metaphorically sum up a lot of what we're expressing in the album about religion and our country.
Scene Point Blank: You're hitting the UK with Converge, Touche Amore, and A Storm of Light very soon (please note that this tour is now over, don't try to go). How are you handling the pressure, if any, of performing alongside such differing styles of music?
Michael: I'm a fan or these kind of tours with bands playing different kinds of music and have different approaches when playing live. I think that tours with four bands playing blast beats for most part of their sets get boring after a while. Some variation on a night of at least three hours of music can only be beneficial to fully enjoy the show and for the audience to give every band a chance.
Scene Point Blank:What does the future hold for The Secret? Is there anything you would like to achieve in the coming years that you've not already?
Michael: We're planning more tours for 2013 and we really hope get the chance to tour the States again.
Scene Point Blank: Awesome, thanks for taking the time to chat to Scene Point Blank. Anything you'd like to throw in?
Michael: Thank you very much for your interest and for the smart questions.
Scene Point Blank: D'awww. Thanks Michael!
Check out the dates for deafheaven and The Secret in Europe here:
Live photo by Carla Buscaglia - thanks!