Through the course of their career, Italian metal quartet The Secret has been slowly knotting together their black metal, hardcore, grind and crust into their own unique, blackened thrash. This process, nearly complete on 2010′s awesomely monolithic Solve et Coagula, hits its peak on fourth album Agnus Dei, an instrument of pure, cleansing punishment. The album is bathed in deep, enveloping bass frequencies, from which emerge guitarist Michael Bertoldini’s icy, strafing leads, evoking bitter, icy downpours surrounded by a pelting hail of blast beats. In more subdued sections, droners such as “Heretic Temple” come on thick and resinous enough to choke. The monotony reaches its magnificent zenith on thirteen minutes of swarming noise called “Seven Billion Graves.”
Agnus Dei‘s most thrilling moments are also its most unpredictable. Highlights like the title track and “The Bottomless Pit” are panicky and unbalanced, swirling somewhere between Mayhem and Converge. Still, even the most chaotic of these songs shares the same elements, drawn from extreme music’s most unquiet corners, hardened by time and pressure into something fresh and even beautiful.