SECRET RULE – UNInVERSE
LABEL: Lucky Bob Records
RELEASE: November 24th, 2023
AUTHOR: Mike Smith
03. Shards Of Time
04. Gravity On Us
06. I Am
07. Time Zero
08. Multiple Me
09. From Null To Life
10. Black Hole
Italy‘s symphonic metal veterans SECRET RULE are gearing up to release their 9th studio album “UNInVERSE” on Lucky Bob Records, November 24th 2023. The album centers around lyrical themes such as what happens after we die and our connection to the universe. Angela tells me “The word “UNInVERSE” is a match between the words Universe and Inverse. We wanna come back to the origin finding the Eqilibrium into the chaos we’re living this moment.” The line-up has changed only slightly since the last album with the addition of Nicola Pedron (Nick) on bass guitar. Nick also plays the piano and sings some background vocals.
Lead track “Disorder“ was the first single and video released in early September, so I’m sure many of you are already familiar with this track. It features a solid beat with a powerful driving bass line and an eerie synth melody which segues into the chorus with double bass drums. The first words we hear sung are by an operatic choir in Latin. “Judica, domine, noce me / Impera, libera, salva me.” Translated this means, “Judge, Sir, harm me / Command, deliver, save me.“ There’s a terrific interview with Angela right here on this site where she talks about the meaning behind this song and several others. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in more details of the album and it’s concept. You’ll find it here: https://www.femalefrontedpower.com/interviews/interview-secret-rule/
“Equilibrium“ follows, and slows things down slightly. It begins with a dramatic piano and synth intro then suddenly rushes in like a solar flare, with heavy downtuned guitars, and a menacing bass and drums attack reminiscent of Within Temptation‘s “The Howling.” The lyrics seem to speak of the afterlife. In the chorus Angela sings: “Feeling your soul / Fly to the dark and say goodbye / Kissing the grave / Beyond the atom / You’ll find the start / Feel the embrace / You’ll see the universe around you.”
“Shards Of Time“ was the second single which premiered in mid-October with a video released concurrently. It’s a powerful and dramatic anthem which lyrically explores our connection to the universe. The song drives along at a steady pace anchored by a thick bass guitar and drums backbone and crunchy guitars while Angela lays down a very impressive vocal. Just past the midway mark things quiet down for a moment and there’s a brief piano and bass interlude. Angela sings: “There will be a falling of stars / Leaving it dark all over / Phantoms will return to play / Violins tonight / One last cry.“
Things really get interesting with track four, “Gravity On Us”. This track has a very cool Within Temptation “The Heart Of Everything” vibe. I hear reminders of the title track and “Final Destination” from the same album. This is a very good thing, as for me “The Heart Of Everything” is perhaps Within Temptation‘s best album, and to these ears that sound is missed! That’s not to say the song doesn’t have it’s own identity, it definitely does. The chorus is for me, one of the most memorable on the album. Angela belts it out beautifully and powerfully: “Stronger I will spread my wings in the maelstrom / Surviving / Higher / Like the angels we, the forsaken / Must open that door / Door.” The production is powerful and punchy and it just sounds amazing!
The third single and video released just 8 days ago (from the time of this writing), is track 5, the title track, “Uninverse”. This is a sort of power ballad. It features a big chorus, symphonic elements, solid and heavy bass, drums, guitar, a choir and, of course, Angela‘s unique, powerful and beautiful vocals. The last track I received is a piano and vocals only version of this song which, if I’m not mistaken, will be an exclusive Spotify only release. After hearing this version you’ll have a new perspective on just how fantastic this song is.
“I Am” is up next. After a short intro with a cool electronic effect we’re treated to a big operatic choir led by guest vocalist Diana Alghiri who also does the operatic vocals on lead track “Disorder”. It’s a sort of atmospheric mid-tempo number with interesting synths, horns and electronic elements throughout. There’s also plenty of heavy guitars, bass and drums. Clocking in at 3:15 this is the shortest song on the album.
“Time Zero” is one of the heavier tracks on the album. There’s some double bass drumming from Sebastiano, growling vocals from Andy and some additional clean vocals from Nick. This song really highlights Nick‘s very impressive bass tone on this album! It’s prominent in every song and I knew I had to mention it somewhere but wow!, what a powerful sound! It seems this is also an appropriate time to mention that the entire album sounds incredible! Andy has really outdone himself this time at the recording and production helm! Every instrument and vocal is strong and punches through the mix!
Track 8 “Multiple Me” opens with a brief intro featuring the pipe organ. The riff during the verses again brings Within Temptation and “The Heart Of Everything” album to mind. Lyrically it falls in line with the album’s concept and addresses the subject of what happens to us after we die. In the chorus Angela sings: “Every time I fall / I step in the wormhole / Where I can be myself / Nobody can see me fall / Another dimension will catch my soul / And my destiny’ll be in my hands.” It’s also one of the few times we get to hear Andy let loose with a blistering guitar solo! And what a solo it is! Which brings me to my only complaint about this album, that I would have liked to hear more guitar solos! This is the longest song on the album at 5:14.
Angela seems to have indicated in the interview I mentioned earlier, that the lyrics to this next track “From Null To Life” were partly inspired by the limited TV series “Bodies.” Having watched the series myself based on her recommendation, I believe this is the case. Still keeping in line with the previous themes of the album, in addition, it addresses topics such as the lust for power and immortality, and the lessons learned from it. “The eternal pain of every man / Brings darkness everywhere / And you will be reborn / When chaos stops.” It’s a heavy, moderately up-tempo song with heavy chugging guitars, some harsh vocals, a few electronic elements, some choirs and, of course, Angela‘s incredible vocals and harmonies.
Album closer “Black Hole” slows things down dramatically. It’s a somber, vocal driven song with acoustic guitar, synths, strings, a steady slow electronic sounding drum beat, choirs and Angela pouring her heart out vocally and lyrically. It’s a very emotional track with Angela hitting some of her highest notes on the album. She sings with passion and with her trademark heavy vibrato: “Left behind by the time / I’ve lost my shadow / Wondering if I’ll survive / I’ve no sense of my life / I’m lost in time / I fall.” A beautiful way to close the album!
To summarize: SECRET RULE have taken their unique blend of symphonic metal with electronic elements and expanded on it (pun intended) with ”Uninverse.“ They continue to create fresh and exciting music that gets better with each album. Andy Menario, guitarist (and growler) for the band has not only crushed it with his killer riffs but, for those who aren’t aware, he also has his own recording studio Digitall Studios where he records, mixes, masters, and produces all of the band’s albums and videos himself. He’s really stepped things up to another level with this new release. It’s a supersonic masterpiece! Nicola Pedron fits right in and has delivered a stellar out of this world bass sound, while also adding some very nice background vocals and some skilled piano work. Sebastiano Dolzani has taken his skills into another dimension with some interesting double bass drums, creative beats and tasty fills. Vocalist/lyricist Angela Di Vincenzo has always had an amazing and unique voice, but with this new release she has eclipsed her previous efforts. She sounds amazing and her lyrics are as usual, intelligent and thought provoking. They will stir your heart, mind and soul while your ears are delighted by the sounds of this fantastic album! “Uninverse” is a must have for any fan of symphonic metal and will most certainly be included among the very best of 2023! Catch them live if you get the chance, they’ll be embarking on a short UK tour starting just three days after the album’s release with more dates to be announced soon!