Fragile Figures review by SECRETS

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  • Released: Jul 22, 2013
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 5.7 Decent
  • Users' score: 5.9 (24 votes)
SECRETS: Fragile Figures
1

Sound — 6
Not always difficult to spot but often difficult to define, post-hardcore is a genre whose prevalence emerged in the later nineties and bled into the 2000s as a sort of "new grunge" for an arguably younger crowd. Some of the more nuanced acts (believe it or not, My Chemical Romance's 2002 debut is a solid post-hardcore record) carry more dignity, but to a great extent post-hardcore is a hit-or-miss. It's been tried and worn by Christian acts, it's been run through the ringer by narcissists, and it's been the poster genre for various "scenes" (see: screamo) this decade. The sound consists most commonly of alternating sludge metal and hardcore punk, particularly in the realm of vocals (screaming and bright tenor). With their latest release, "Fragile Figures," Secrets plays to every rule in the book.

The record blasts off with the mach speed "How We Survive," proudly waving the genre's each and every stereotype and standing as the album's noisiest moment until halfway point "The Architect." Until then, most of the record is slightly poppier without sacrificing any of Secrets' borderline obsessive use of dark power chords and very safe drum work. It's easy enough to listen to, but there are very few adventurous moments to be had, and the album's lighter moments ("Maybe Next May," "Sleep Well, Darling") are simply juvenile. Perhaps the album's greatest hindrance is the inability to step out of the safe zone. One of the highlights of "I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love" (hitherto the reference point for decent instrumental post-hardcore) was the inclusion of two extremely diverse guitarists, one from an English heavy metal background, the other playing in garage hardcore punk bands. Secrets has no such diversity: the guitar work is, as a rule, fast and furious. "Wasted Youth" has a very, very brief harmony, but this isolated blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment is literally the only instance of breaking that formula.

Any looking for a light, child-friendly introduction to post-hardcore may consider Secrets a good springboard, though the disadvantage would be in moving to less produced-sounding groups. Perhaps, coming from San Diego (one of the niche locations of the genre's development), the band is simply too close to post-hardcore itself. Rather than bringing in outside influence and putting a twist on the genre, they are as close to picture-perfect 2010s post-hardcore as one can possibly be. Having toured exclusively with like-minded musicians, perhaps they were destined for "Fragile Figures"' cookie-cutter sound. To summarize, any fans familiar with the genre should go straight to "The Architect," while those still on pop-punk will feel more comfortable with "Wasted Youth" or "Forever and Never." Ya p-ssies.

Lyrics — 5
While at this point the names are irrelevant, Aaron Melzer handles screaming while Richard Rogers is the bright tenor focusing on melody. One of the inherent hurdles one must leap through to create interesting post-hardcore of the brand Secrets do is having dignified vocal work. Well, Melzer is almost immediately out of the running; his technique is throaty and sadly telling of his age. Bless the boy for trying, but perhaps it's just hard not to sound silly as a young screamer. Bizarrely, his stronger moments are counteracted with terrible lyricism ("I hear these voices in my mind" or something of the sort). Someone throw the man a bone. Rogers is a typical tenor with lots of soaring melodies and straightforward tonality. Because he never varies, he never misses a beat, but there isn't anything differentiating him from the likes of Attack Attack! or Escape The Fate.

As mentioned, the lyrical work here is pretty shoddy. Lots of "we"s and "your"s going on; in short, the kind of stuff screamo loves to splatter all over its lyric book. The album's opening line is "My heart can only break so many times before I lose my faith in all mankind." That should say enough about the record as a whole; it's very simplistic and very emotional. This is one of the failings of the last decade in post-hardcore (as well as metal): blatancy in the lyrics. Even a band of the same genre here's the third My Chemical Romance comparison; apologies is leagues ahead simply for the fact that the message is communicated through analogy and storytelling.

It won't come as a surprise to anyone that heavy metal's heroes, Black Sabbath, have a song called "Iron Man" which stands at the pinnacle of their storytelling discography. The song is, as the title suggests, literally about an iron man. He may be a giant, he may just be man-sized; it doesn't really matter. The point here is that a band wrote a song about a metallic man that, when picked apart, is actually a pretty touching story. The message is there, but it requires active interpretation rather than passive absorbency. Secrets is a band writing for the latter; the message is very blatant, very open, and not exactly eloquent. How profound is ranting about "needing a fresh start" and that a couple "was always meant to fall apart," versus a message delivered through symbolism and anecdote? Secrets' lyricism borders on being childish. Each and every song is yet another self-deprecating tangent about how "a boy like me" doesn't "stand a chance against a girl like you." With music as heavy as post-hardcore can be, it seems comically disproportionate.

Overall Impression — 6
If you're a fan of profundity and provocation in hardcore, Secrets is the newest act to hate. How many self-centered speeches about brokenheartedness and failure in a relationship will it take before these bands will realize how ridiculous they sound? Describing what "these scars represent" may connect them to their audience, but it is neither progressive nor touching. It's overkill. In trying to sound adult ("You'll feel my wrath"), "Fragile Figures" ultimately demeans itself with juvenile terminology. What happened to larger-than-life figures, the strength in which is an aspiration to succeed? In 2013, Secrets does nothing but wallow in its own lethargy.

34 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Disturbed_EMG
    "Even if I had a heart, I wouldn't waste it on you." Its cute when these bands try to be deep.
    registered_user
    Very well written review. Not one mention of the label this band is on! It's always nice to see a Rise band broken down based on their material rather than see them torn apart immediately because of the associations that surround them. If they suck and they're on Rise, so be it. Leave that trash for the comments.
    vppark2
    Great review Jared. I think the only thing really worth pointing out is how sexy the album cover is haha
    OldHairyOne
    Not even post-hardcore. the 'post-' prefix has always suggested to me that the music is almost like a progressive version of the subject genre. Rock has those anthemic choruses, post-rock does away with any sort of catchy vocals. Metal is in your face from the get go, post-metal works on a build-up and a crescendo. What I've just said might be fat-headed shite to a lot of people, but that's how I would explain it. Post-hardcore to me has interludes, interesting instrumentation, and odd structures. I refuse to believe that a genre so finely classified as to have a prefix can be so varied as to encompass this radio-shite and the likes of At The Drive-In. There is nothing here that is not 'Pop'.
    crazysam23_Atax
    They're not Metalcore either, because that stands for "Metallic Hardcore". This is more akin to Pop Punk with some harsh vocals.
    JMZ08
    The metalcore label just gets thrown on bands like this because I think its meaning has been lost in translation. There aren't any hardcore punk influences with these bands. I think the masses forget what hardcore punk was...
    takenthecannoli
    Yeah, what with music being more accessible now than it ever has been, it's really hard to pick up a Black Flag album. ...oh, wait. It's easy to pick out the HCP influence when you peel back the pop. It's not a difficult analysis.
    thomshafer
    this sucks. and the bass player looks like he's going to trip over this guitar at any moment
    Metallidethium
    I like the album. I'm in the mood for a lot of thought provoking metal and technical music more often than not but that's not what this album tries to be. This isn't really post hardcore to me. When I think post hardcore, I think of bands like Emery and bands that input some progressive elements into their sound. I guess I'd use the term pop-core if it even exists lol. But regardless, I thought it was just punchy and to the point. Certainly nothing new or innovative in any stretch but enjoyably simple.
    travislausch
    "the guitar work is, as a rule, fast and furious." *posts two very mid-tempo videos* Anyways, just what the world needed, another faceless metalcore band with pop-rock clean vocals and breakdowns. At least they'll sell a lot of records, right! Don't get me wrong, these guys are alright and the songs are well-written, but they sound like almost every other "metal" band that's come out in the last few years, and every sixteen-year-old on the planet will think this is really hip shit, maybe even wear one of their tshirts with the huge Impact lettering on it, but there's no substance to be had here. This band will be forgotten about in ten years' time, max.
    vppark2
    I heard some of the songs on this album, and enjoyed a few of them at first. Now only one memorable song. Better than their debut album I guess. Lyrics are cringe-worthy btw, but what can I expect from a band on Rise Records? New vocalist is.....uh...idk...I prefer the clean vocalist bc he actually has more emotion and thought to what he's saying. Pretty much my thoughts on this band in a nutshell. And one more thing, Secrets? Thats an original name for your band? lol
    Silver Blues
    Oh... god. I heard the first three words to the first video and immediately closed the tab. Not good.
    the.cake.is.a.l
    to takenthecannoli: if this bands sucks then why do they have a record deal? Do you have one? So they have obviously accomplished more than you have.
    takenthecannoli
    So Justin Bieber doesn't suck. Or...whomsoever. Bieber's obviously an easy target, but insert any crap artist selling millions. Well, my 12-year-old-UG-downvoting-Portal-and-Adventure-Time-loving friend, they have a record deal because they know how to fool juvenile jokers like you into buying their obnoxious crap. Not to justify the ridiculous latter part of your comment, but I'm not even interested in making music. I'm a med student. If I were to go into music, is the review's analysis not enough to suggest that I may just know a bit more about music than Secrets? So, frankly, I COULD accomplish more. I believe that of many of the people I've met on UG. Even if they won't necessarily make more, many of them certainly have the ability to make better music than goddamn Secrets. I digress. For God's sake, it's a band. It's not even a band worth defending. Get over it.
    vppark2
    Btw, I don't mean to sound like a fanboy of these bands, but, the older metalcore bands are honestly the only bands doing real well today, and not getting sucked into money, drama, fame, and all of that lackluster bs. Take a look at Killswitch Engage and their great comeback album. Take a look at August Burns Red for furthering their sound, and especially a huge improvement lyrically. And take a look at, if people do consider their album metalcore; the new Senses Fail album. These bands have so much more to offer than, (yes, I'm putting them on the chopping block) Secrets. Granted, they're still a young band, but did we ever see the 3 bands I mentioned above release 2 cliched albums in a row? Hell to the no. Anyways, I know Secrets is not the only band doing this. Look at other bands on Rise's roster. Like Moths to Flames is another perfect example. All I'm saying is that I really don't see much growth in these bands if they're already becoming part of that risecore label. Hell, even Memphis May Fire is on that list now for selling the **** out to a different crowd, and Matty Mullins practically becoming butt buddies with Kellin Quinn.
    vppark2
    On another note, Secrets and most of these risecore bands will not make it very far. I give them 2 more albums tops. Similar to Attack Attack! for quitting after 3. Now, a great example of a band who's turned everything around for the better is The Devil Wears Prada. They started out a scene band, but after getting Adam D. To produce their last album, they've gotten themselves on the right path. I cannot say the same for say, blessthefall. They keep choosing the overproduced Joey Sturgis. Hopefully my talking isn't boring you lol
    crazysam23_Atax
    With all due respect, vp, KsE is largely pop metal, albeit of a less generic variety than most.
    Megdidar
    Is While She Sleeps considered metalcore? Most of the recent albums I've listened to that were labeled metalcore were terrible and sound nothing like music that was given the same classification as little as ten years ago.
    the.cake.is.a.l
    This article mocks music that many people enjoy such as myself and no one can change that. And to the author maybe you should have had someone do a review that sees that this music isn't just emotions its what people love to do/make and what people listen to. So if you are going to do a review do not mock the artist for following something they love the sound of.
    takenthecannoli
    I didn't mock the genre. I didn't mock anyone for loving a genre I, too, have found value in. I mocked this band for sucking.
    vppark2
    We need more of these newer bands to actually take inspiration from the hardcore punk scene. Bands such as Minor Threat, Refused, or even Converge. One of the few bands I respect for their own breed of hardcore is The Ghost Inside. Don't see many others...
    crazysam23_Atax
    I'd even go further back than bands from '00s as far Hardcore. I'm not an authority on Hardcore, but still.