Artist: Soul Secret

Album Title: Blue Light Cage

Label: Layered Reality Productions

Date of Release: 23 October 2020

Bearing in mind my love for progressive metal, it seems impossible that there’s a band out there within this genre, with no less than four albums under their belts, about which I know almost nothing. And yet that’s very much the reality that faces me here.

Soul Secret are an Italian progressive metal band that came into existence some 16 years ago, primarily as a covers band. Over time, they began to write original material, recording their debut album, ‘Flowing Portraits’ in 2008. And now, in 2020, they are in a position to present the world with album number five, ‘Blue Light Cage’.

The album’s title reflects the concept that flows through the album, namely the observation from keyboardist Luca Di Gennaro, that “people think they actively take part in life, but actually they are just watching others doing things”, principally through their television screens. It’s a sobering thought, one that drives nine individual tracks through themes such as mas media influence, fake news and more existential human struggles. As you might therefore expect, ‘Blue Light Cage’ is not always the most uplifting and happy of records. What it is however, is a really entertaining listen, that scratches the itch of ‘classic’ progressive metal, an itch I experience often if truth be told.

I say, ‘classic progressive metal’ because there are plenty of nods to the purveyors of the genre, Dream Theater, Threshold et al. But, in addition, the band aren’t afraid to experiment with ideas, genres, and instruments. As such, there’s a quirkiness that recalls early Haken, as well as a more modern sheen at times, thanks to the array of keyboard sounds that litter the album, not to mention some more djent-y, down-tuned guitar tones throughout, albeit certainly not exclusively.

I suspect that there will be some who might not gel with vocalist, Lino Di Pietrantonio, because, he has a tendency to sound a little squeaky when he hits his upper range. However, after a few early misgivings on that score, I don’t have too many complaints. Yes, a little more bottom end in his approach would be something to address next time. But actually, the guy can really sing and he puts in a varied and committed performance behind the microphone. I happen to think that it has more to do with the overall production and a need for the mix to be a little less trebly. But when you consider the likely budget and the fact that the band themselves handled the production, with the hitherto unknown Virus Studio dealing with the final mix, ‘Blue Light Cage’ sounds pretty damn good to be completely fair.

And, crucially, the music itself is of an equally good standard. Yes, the quintet does indulge themselves in the name of prog, but each song stands on its own and is not just an exercise in frivolity and vacuous instrumental posing. An initial listen or two had me sitting on the fence, but in true prog style, the magic started to emerge with repeated forays, meaning that I now thoroughly like this record. There is a surprising amount of melody that digs its claws into the listener, making the experience more and more enjoyable as time goes on, to the point that I now hear melodies within songs I initially dismissed entirely.

The Dream Theater references are hard to ignore within ‘The Ghost Syndicate’, but that’s perhaps unsurprising given that Soul Secret boast a guest appearance from none other than Derek Sherinian. But the core of the song is very much Soul Secret’s own, one that ebbs and flows very nicely, displaying plenty of instrumental dexterity, as well as engaging melodies that become stronger with each passing listen. Naturally the keys take a major role in shaping a song that sounds fresh and modern, yet with more than a nod to the past and the luminaries that clearly inspired them at the outset.

I’m also reminded of ‘Another Day’ from ‘Images And Words’ when I listen to the title track to ‘Blue Light Cage’. Not that the two songs are in any way identical; more because both are gloriously melodic in their own way as well as both successfully incorporating a saxophone, into the song without me recoiling in horror. This is quickly becoming a firm favourite and could easily find a place in my top 10 songs of 2020 as it stands.

I referred to Haken earlier in the review and on ‘The President’s Speech’, you can really hear the inspiration. Again the song is unique and varied enough to avoid the ‘clone’ tag, topped off by a massively addictive chorus and an unexpected foray into lounge jazz. But I can definitely hear Haken within the opening riff and in the latter stages of the song, where things get a little quirky and off-beat to say the least.

Continuing with the theme, the ghost of Haken can be heard within the closing 13-minute epic ‘Breathe And Recover’. However, on this occasion, those hankering after a return to ‘Aquarius’ and ‘Visions’ will smile, because that almost irreverent, scatty approach is evident here. The song is full of dark atmosphere, whilst a sense of oppression and claustrophobia loom large, even though significant swathes of the track are quieter in tone and delivery. In fact, I love the way the song develops, flitting as it does from soundscape to soundscape, telling a story as it does so. The juxtaposition between bright and breezy keys and syths, and the heavier, more venomous riffs, especially towards the end are a great touch and help to end the album on a high.

Elsewhere, it would be remiss of me not to mention the slightly djent-y ‘We Become Dust’, that’s drenched in rich synths, displays great instrumentalism, and benefits from another cool chorus that impresses almost from the outset, not to mention a really nice solo late on from Francesco Cavezza. And I’m also highly impressed with ‘Going Home’, which has some of the boldest electronics to feature on the entire record, some pronounced and flamboyant progressive elements, and a brooding, moody chorus that is the epitome of a slow-burn monster.

It is fair to say that I have grown incredibly fond of ‘Blue Light Cage’. It speaks directly to my love of progressive and melodic music, fusing the two into an engrossing and enjoyable listening experience that gets better and better the more I listen. My hope is that this record and new relationship with Layered Reality Productions is the start of something bigger and better for this talented Italian outfit. So, if you’re a fan of well-constructed and smart progressive metal, ‘Blue Light Cage’ from Soul Secret should be your very next purchase.

The Score of Much Metal: 90%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Enslaved – Utgard

Dynfari – Myrkurs er þörf

Amaranthe – Manifest

Kataklysm – Unconquered

Structural Disorder – Kingdom Crossing

Skeletal Remains – The Entombment Of Chaos

Prehistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews