One of last year's harshest records was without a doubt 'Solve Et Coagula' from Italy's the Secret. Forgoing any musical foreplay to ease ears into a blackened hybrid of hardcore and grind, 'Solve Et Coagula' is a tough but welcomed pill to swallow in a growing sea of bands overly obsessed with cleaning up their approach.

It's taken three albums to get to this point of documented unrest. The band's 2003 debut, 'Luce,' stumbled through attempts to move past traditional hardcore structure. But on 'Disintoxication' (the band's final release on the now-defunct Goodfellow Records), the discordant form began to take shape.

"When we wrote 'Disintoxication,' we started everything from the beginning since the band was completely new -- and we still didn't really have a clear vision of what we wanted to do," guitarist Michael Bertoldini wrote to Noisecreep via e-mail. "We tried to rush to have a new album out as soon as possible, and I think the songwriting kinda suffered from this.

"We put too many ideas into the songs, and the result was much less focused in comparison to the new record. We started writing 'Solve et Coagula' with the will to do a more classical hardcore metal sounding record with a more traditional song structure. I think this is the main difference."

To capture a "more guitar-oriented record," the band came over to the States more organized than ever before. They had all songs pre-produced and entered Godcity Studios, where Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou worked more as an engineer helping them find a guitar tone that fit the songs.

One of the most telling parts of 'Solve Et Coagula' center around a loss of faith the members feel about the politics and the media in their home country. "We live in Italy and I think we're living in one the worst periods in the history of this country," Bertoldini wrote. "The economical recession and decades of garbage TV programs where fake characters or football players are taken as role models are pushing people to ask for easy answers to very hard questions.

"It's no secret that our premier has ownership of a large stake of Italian TV channels, newspapers and magazines. This allowed politicians to use their propaganda to obtain the power they need to make laws ad personam, to protect their status quo and become untouchable -- in addition to finding other ways to make more money, without addressing any political agendas or issues."

The guitarist added, "The scariest thing is probably that the majority of Italian people are not even aware of what's happening and still blindly support our government."

It's impossible not to mention Italy without shining a light on one of the world's most powerful religions, Roman Catholicism -- which Bertoldini is not fond of. "The Vatican has always been a hidden power in Italian politics and played a big role in our society.

"I think the eradication of Catholicism and its influence in this country would be a fundamental step forward for us, but politicians are still using the hypocrisy of Christianity to coerce people to vote for them."

The Secret return to the states for a tour with the Funeral Pyre beginning March 12.

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