Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Friday, October 18, 2019
review: Secret Chapter
Sound: The Secret Chapter (Norway) debut album is traditional heavy metal with melodic, smooth singing.
Production: The overall sound quality is good and contemporary, in the sense that you hear the instruments and the singing. The only problem is the stiff, lifeless sound of the sampled drumming. In addition, because it does not sound like human drumming, you hear two things only, basically: the bass drum and the snare drum. The cymbals are barely there. In short, bring back the drummer.
Instrumentation: The bass guitar gives a nice bottom end to the album. There are keyboards (not power metal symphonic keyboards; but rather more in the style of classic rock) for background feeling. The riffs are classic-style, drawing from classic rock and traditional heavy metal inspirations. The soloing is also good, melodic and traditional.
Vocals: On some occasions, there is some high screaming, but it’s not a lot. In general, the singing is smooth and with some layering for that extra melodic feel. The soft keyboards and the smooth singing make the music very appealing for fans of classic rock/heavy rock/heavy metal and melodic hard rock. The band is more like 1980s Scorpions than the screaming metal of Judas Priest.
Songs: All the songs are meant to sound like fan favorites. The band sticks to uptempo, fun, concise songs. The quality of the songs is good and there is no sense of filler tracks.
Lyrics: Life, rock and roll, relationships and similar matters are the topics of the music. There are no obvious or prominent profanities, if there are any. They have some lyrics that are similar to sleaze rock, talking about sin city and love affairs, without trying to shock and be fake “edgy,” without the cheese/stupidity of the American bands from the 1980s.
Potential audience: Fans of traditional, melodic heavy metal should be the main demographic as the target audience.
Similar bands: The band is closer to Dio and Scorpions, than say the harder, more steeled sounds of Judas Priest and Accept.
Assessment: The album ends with a cover of the long-running Norwegian veterans TNT, “Everyone’s a Star,” a catchy song if there ever was one, featuring the immaculate high voice of Tony Harnell, when the American used to sing for TNT. The cover is a good example of Secret Chapter’s intended style of melodic heavy metal. Of course, it is almost impossible for any singer to match the young Tony Harnell’s flawless voice, but kudos to Secret Chapter for making the effort to run with the big boys. The album should be a fun, rocking discovery for fans. The good songwriting and the skills are convincing. The music is so good that anyone into traditional rock music would find something in it to like from the singing, the guitars and the accessible songs. With human drumming the songs would have more groove and spirit, but the problem of mechanical-like drumming is not specific to this band, as it is a generalized problem in rock and metal music. To sum up, the songs on the album show the attention and care that has gone in coming up with a classy, memorable and catchy album that with repeated listens becomes more difficult to abandon.