Band – Under the Pledge of Secrecy
Album – Empire of Bastards
Country of Origin – Germany
Genre – Experimental/Death Metal/Grindcore/Black Metal
Release Date – December 10, 2019
Label – Independent
Author – Hayduke X
Often when a band tries to mix together disparate styles, it’s an unholy mess, with nothing working together. Imagine a chemistry experiment gone wrong in a school classroom. Imagine how long it would take for the people in the biohazard suits to remove all the blood and viscera from the far corners of the classroom. That is what happens musically far too often.
Fortunately, Under the Pledge of Secrecy have mastered the science of mixing styles of extreme metal in their proper proportions. The result is certainly explosive, but in a very good way. The explosion is gripping, shocking, well measured, and above all, very, very moving.
So, what exactly is the mix of extreme chemical compounds at work here? Metal Archives lists the style as deathcore/grindcore, but I think they are leading you astray, trying to create business for the folks in the biohazard suits…I mean, they need work too, I guess. To my well trained ear, we start with a base of death metal. The particular death metal element is somewhat modern, but if you are working to create your own extreme metal science experiment, you could make a different, but careful choice. From there, add in several parts of grindcore (I won’t be more specific so as not to give away any trade secrets). After all, death metal and grindcore have been successfully mixed since at least the early days of Napalm Death. Already we have a great mix.
Once the above mixture has time to incubate and gel, add in some black metal, especially in key moments in the riffing and a hint of it in the vocal style. Also, a pinch of traditional heavy metal lead work is in order. Finally, mix carefully, but well, with alternating progressive and experimental song structures, time signatures, and dynamics. Add high voltage electricity and allow to cool. The monster will arise, cohesive, coherent, and altogether merciless.
Hopefully my somewhat silly analogy above drives the point home that Empire of Bastards is a difficult album to pigeonhole. Through ten tracks, the duo of Thorsten S. (bass, guitars) and Stefan K. (drums, vocals) takes us on a journey of power and passion, beauty and brutality. There is a lot going on and the album never stands still for long. Parts of it rip and tear, while others are altogether face melting. There are even more quiet contemplative moments, though even these have some hints of ominous menace. Under the Pledge of Secrecy have created a strange ride through collective psyche of the world, but not so strange as to turn away listeners. There is much here to appeal to the more straightforward listener as well. For those of us that like things a little weird, dig deep. You’ll be surprised as to what you find.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. Beginning in 2018, he also began writing for VM Metal Underground. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.