Secret Rule - MachinationRemember Amaranthe? Say what you want about them as a metal band (which, if you’re being six figure tax return levels of charitable, would be “not so great”), but as a pop band they’re alright. Massive Addictive was catchy, regardless of the fact that it was meticulously crafted by Swedish pop robots, made of 100% candy-coated processed cheese, and equal in substance to a sugar rush. Italy’s Secret Rule is pure processed cheese too, but it’s the Kraft Singles that you left out in the sun after a weekend barbecue and would feel bad giving to your friend on a sandwich as a prank. For those of you who don’t know the joy of Kraft Singles (and thus a masterful grilled cheese), this means that Secret Rule’s second record Machination doesn’t exactly float my boat. Contrarily, my musical tastes may as well be the Spanish Armada and these alt-metallers the Royal Navy. So let’s explore Spanish naval history and examine my metaphorical musical taste vessel, as we can rent the same glass-bottom boat for both.

If I wrote the stickers that go on the fronts of CDs, I would say that Machination is recommended if you think Amaranthe is too heavy and that modern Lacuna Coil would be better if they were less catchy. If you like non-stop alt-metal chugging with some mediocre keyboards that spice the proceedings up in the same way playing Neurosis at a house party would, then you’re in luck. On the heaviness spectrum, we’re looking at somewhere between Evanescence and Saliva, but amusingly ignorant aggro party rock and Amy Lee’s vocals sadly don’t make an appearance here. If you heard Dark Adrenaline and thought that its songwriting recipe was mediocre, Machination mixes up flour with baking soda, replaces sugar with salt, and then leaves it in the oven for too long.

If the whole of Machination was like “The Image” it would fare a wee bit better. Angela Di Vincenzo carries this track with her limited vocals, and the simple piano melody that forms the entire song is good enough to be one of those sad-but-not-too-sad songs which are fleetingly enjoyable as pop music; it’s high-fructose melancholic mediocrity. It doesn’t come close to the calculated catchiness of Amaranthe or the okay-ness of modern Lacuna Coil, sounding instead like a pale imitation of the Platonic form of meh. Given that the third paragraph is generally the part where we say nice things about records here at AMG, you’d better break out your sleds, folks: it’s all downhill from here.

Secret Rule 2016

If I were a Rock n’ Roll Doctor, I would diagnose Secret Rule with terminal Dragonforce Syndrome: I have to constantly check my player to see if a new song started, or if it’s the same one with a weak transition. The poor and incessantly similar songwriting choices that pepper Machination could make distinguishing between in-song transitions and new songs beginning a fun drinking game if you take a shot when you’re wrong, provided you like alcohol poisoning. This sort of record lives and dies by its leading melodies, and given that the guitars are as devoted to chugging as a college student intent on breaking a worldwide kegstand record, the vocals de facto take up the mantle. Unfortunately, every song tries to break out huge hooks but all of them fail outright. “I Will” sounds like the most flaccid and tired Euro-power metal ever recorded in its chorus and the bridge features Signoria Di Vincenzo doing a weird Geddy Lee impression while seemingly singing an entirely different song. “A Mother” is bland lowbrow cheesy balladry, and Di Vincenzo does so much needless vibrato that it sounds like she was operating a jackhammer while performing the vocals. If true, this would be a marvel in audio engineering because I didn’t hear a jackhammer in the background. Incidentally, such a recording achievement would be far and away the most valuable and impressive thing on Machination.

There’s nothing Secret Rule does here that would make me want to listen to them in any capacity. Machination is low-rent poppy alt-metal in sound and production, inspiring boredom and the burning desire to listen to pretty much anything else. There are fewer hooks here than on a pirate with all of his appendages fully intact, the occasional and arbitrary growled vocals sound like an irritating mid-size dog, and Di Vincenzo, the star of the show, utterly fails to sing a memorable hook, verse, or bridge throughout. Listening to this is like speed dating if all of the girls were uninteresting, irritating, and woefully unattractive: no matter how many times you switch partners, it just doesn’t get any better.



Rating: 0.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Scarlet Records
Websites: secretrule.it | facebook.com/secretruleband
Releases Worldwide: June 24th, 2016

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  • This is aggressively awful.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      idk man, they have more than 3 times the following of Nechochwen, so they must be 3 times as good

      • The masses are asses.

      • Lasse Momme

        That right there is fucking depressing.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I reckon this would be awesome 3 days into a crystal meth binge.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Tried it after a two-day long one and it still sucked. I will admit that three would’ve been better from a journalistic integrity standpoint though.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        You’ve let everyone down…

  • Grymm

    They have a keytarist.

    *blink*

    *blink-blink*

    THEY HAVE A FUCKING KEYTARIST.

    • Jealous?

      • Grymm

        …secretly.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Secret Rule should be jealous if anyone is, last time I reviewed a band with prominent keytar it got RotY back in 2014.

        • Nag Dammit

          Wow, I cannot remember seeing Peter using a keytar live. Perhaps it was deemed too dangerous to unleash in a live setting in case of rioting fans? Or I just haven’t watched enough Opeth footage on YouTube.

      • Definitely.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      And here I was thinking that was the best thing about them!

      • Dethjesta

        I think it is. Which says a lot.

    • HENCE the .5.

    • dblbass23

      …a damn KEYTARIST!! Made me do a double take!!

    • JohnC

      So does Voyager. But, they are actually good.

    • slammin_rushdie

      So uh I joked that it looked like the guy from Sonata Arctica, and it got sent to the moderation queue because there was a picture. What I’m saying is, don’t bother approving it, because that’s actually him.
      Poor Henrik, you don’t really need the money that bad…

  • tetters

    The minute the keyboards started wet farting I hated it. ….and then that chick opened her mouth and started barfing.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Just another perennially terrible pussymphonic metal band.

    • [not a Dr]

      I like pussymphonic metal. 3 things I like, combined into 1. But this… [words fail]

  • El Lado Oscuro

    lol, love this 0.5 reviews, so funny

  • Kronos

    After all of the moaning you’ve been doing about this record lately, I was very excited to see the review published. You did not disappoint.

  • I am amazed this is DR7. Thats gotta count for something! :)

  • I listened to three songs and what struck me was the fact that their singer couldn’t actually carry a tune. She’s actually off key on the harmonies.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      What struck me the most about this record was probably my desk because my head hit that plenty of times.

    • Grymm

      On a scale from 1 to Savn, how bad is she?

  • Lasse Momme

    What a heaping fucking trash fire this is.

  • I know typically the record of the month goes to the “best” record of the month, but perhaps we should break from tradition and nominate this as the “review” of the month! Hilarious! I cannot wait for the next “Secret Rule” album, so that I may read that masterpiece! :)

  • Norfair Legend

    As I pressed play, I realized the sound was off on my computer…a telling sign perhaps. Turned up the volume and was slapped with some kind of bizzaro world Korpiklaani that made me honestly spit/laugh for a second.

    I made it through the video by shear amusement so I’d say that 0.5 was worth it.

  • Ben Harris

    The singer is massively hot. But she sucks. It took me most of the video to realize she was singing in English. Maybe their time would be better spent just letting her stand there looking good.

    Also, that review was amazing.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      She only gets to stand around looking good if she’s holding the keytar.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Dear lord… A Saliva reference?? *cocks gun and puts to head*

    • InfamousMB

      I think perhaps *click-click-boom” would have been more apt.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Don’t do it! We can make you a superstar! It’s a rock n’ roll revolution! You may be walkin’ on the razor’s edge, but the ladies and gentlemen around these parts would be devastated to see you go. Everybody will raise up in protest to you pulling the trigger!

  • Bart the Repairman

    “pale imitation of the Platonic form of meh”.
    Seriously, man, where did you get that from? :D
    Your review made my day. I’m afraid that some sentences will haunt me in the least appropriate moments, like in the bus, forcing me to laugh loud among disgusted passengers.

    • [not a Dr]

      How would one be able to distinguish between a pale imitation and a quasi-perfect exemplary paragon of the Platonic form of meh?
      Wouldn’t it all just make you go meh?

  • AngryMetalBird

    c’mon, could be worse…. well, actually no it couldn’t

  • Maybe I’m a sadistic asshole, but I really enjoy reading negative reviews.
    In other news, as soon as an Amaranthe comparison was made I immediately decided not to bother listening to this.

    • I instinctively knew this shit most likely wasn’t for me, so I scrolled down to take a quick listen. When I saw the rating, I knew I had to read the entire review, and it was great! Anger is underrated.

  • mtlman1990

    Is anyone reviewing the new Frost* album?

  • JJnetZach

    Neurosis namedrop!!!

    Wait a moment…

  • The Nerd.

    This read like a 0.0. How is it not a 0.0. Also i now need to make grilled cheese with Kraft Singles thanks to you Diabolus

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      To make it extra good use 1.5 Singles per sandwich. Put the half in the middle and it becomes the perfect amount of cheesy.

    • AngryMetalBird

      I’d give it 0.5 because it made me laugh

    • Kraft singles are second to Velveeta singles. They’re the best! :)

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        You are all disgusting. I enjoy real cheese. Not plastic cheese.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Grilled cheese isn’t proper food though, it’s a great snack though. Then again I also happily drink Labatt Blue so perhaps my taste buds aren’t hugely commendable…

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            In no way am I bashing on grilled cheese sandwiches. I could kill for one right now. What I will bash on is your taste in food and beer. I think your tongue is dead. Thankfully, I was blessed with a refined palette. *leans back in recliner with a High Life and pork rinds*

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Honestly that sounds like a tasty combo to me. That’s why I moved to metal writing actually, because I couldn’t hack it as food critic.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I believe that. Drinking Labatt Blue automatically disqualifies you from critiquing food. And makes you a failure at life. Good thing your music reviews set you straight again.

          • I’m with Dr G on this. You need to work on your beer – like stat. Now where the heck did I put my Heady Topper?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            You left it over here by my Mickey’s tallboy.

          • Bummer. I guess I will have to live with some Dogfish Head 120 minutes. I got two pints left in my uKeg.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Oooo that oughta do.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Did you check near my awesome glass of delicious Cornet?

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Aw come on, it’s a local thing! My hometown has a big Labatt brewery in it!

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Ok, I’ll let that slide. I have Golden, Colorado friends that have bad taste for the same reason.

          • [not a Dr]

            I guess Ontario didn’t allow beer over 5%? You could at least have upgraded to Blue Dry.

          • The Nerd.

            UGGGGGHHHHH LABATT BLUE! What is Boxer beer to good for you. Atleast Alexander Keith is halfway decent, or else all of Canada’s beer would suck

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            I was born and raised in Ontario, where a beer/liquor laws are a scintillating mixture of state-sponsored monopolies and Prohibition; I’ve never even heard of Boxer before because of this, haha. Guessing it’s bad though! Keith’s is nice, but our craft breweries have quality some stuff worth trying, especially La Fin Du Monde. I’ve been in Belgium for nine or so months and have tried plenty of their wonderful beers, and LFDM is still one of the best Belgian style beers I’ve ever had. If you like dark beer then the same brewery does Trois Pistoles, and it’s pretty good too. Flying Monkey is alright as well, I think the specific one is called Hopnosis or something along those lines, but those are all worth trying if you want to try some good Canadian brews!

          • The Nerd.

            Boxer beer is the Amaranthe of beers. And I love how you described the liquor laws out in Ontario. LFDM I have heard is fan fucking tastic.

          • [not a Dr]

            La Fin Du Monde is a romatic beer! My girlfriend and I used to get drunk exclusively on that during our first few years together.
            They used to sell it in a gift pack: 2 large bottles with only one glass.
            Unlike the denizens of Ontario, we could buy it in convenience stores.

          • The Nerd.

            All of Canada can’t buy beer in convenience stores. We have specific liquor stores. Damn Liberals. I want to get my beer and chips in the same place goddamn it!

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            If I was asked to sum up living in Ontario in two words, “Damn Liberals” would be a strong contender.

        • Kronos

          Preach! We Wisconsinites don’t take kindly to false cheese.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Kraft is super common in Ontario though, so I gotta defend the tradition!

        • Reese Burns

          Being from Ontario, I can stand behind our love of Kraft.

          • The Nerd.

            Kraft Dinner is the shit.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            For Canada Day/Dominion Day, a box of Kraft Dinner is patiently waiting on my shelf here in Belgium. They don’t have our Kraft delicacies here, so it came from England, where it sits in Tesco’s international aisle.

          • [not a Dr]

            Try Kraft Dinner “au grattin”: melt 2 or 3 slices of Kraft Singles over your bowl of Kraft Dinner (not in the toaster-oven, use the microwave)

        • Reese Burns

          Just remembered about this since Canada Day is coming up, enjoy your reserved Kraft!

    • The song “crafting” couldn’t have been much worse, or so you think. But have your baby sister make a song, and reconsider such a statement.
      The vocalist could have been more of key, the drums more out of rhythm, keytar solos only, and hell, with DR7 it’s even slightly dynamic.
      You can always fuck something up even more. Thus it’s probably wise being careful throwing the 0.0 around.

  • Iain Gleasure

    Diabolus! You have displeased the Gods of Cheese!

    Kraft singles are the spawn of satan not the pathway to masterful grilled cheese. You have dishonoured the ancestors and must walk the path to righteousness alone.

    No sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I’ll sing “Hotel California” in the direction of Mount Cheesemore (which is the faces of Timo, Jorn, Luca, and Tobias carved into old cheddar) to make up for it.

      • Bart the Repairman

        Oh God, I have to make a proper photomanipulation. Just need some time.
        And… am I the only one here who loves Eagles and don’t consider them cheesy at all?

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          I was referring to the sure to be legendary Jorn version, but IMO Hotel California is a cheesy song. Life in the Fast Lane is not though, and it rules. Probably my favourite song of theirs.

          • Bart the Repairman

            I prefer their softer, more country songs, like „Tequilla Sunrise”, „Peaceful Easy Feeling” or „Doolin’ Dalton”.
            Not so long ago someone threw a question about our favourite metal for drinking alcohol – for me heavy, dense music doesn’t fit into this… I like to chill out with glass of bourbon and playlist composed of Eagles, ZZ Top, Joe Bonamassa or Mark Knopfler’s solo stuff.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Agreed for the most part with metal and drinking. Metal for drinking has to be catchy; Ulcerate is never, ever good as music to drink to, for instance. That said, Hellhammer and Mayhem have made the soundtrack for two of the best drinking nights of my life, so it has its place I’d wager.

          • SegaGenitals

            I’d gladly listen to Ulcerate while sipping a nice bourbon, and reading Roberto Bolano’s 2666.

          • Kronos

            Drinking with Ulcerate playing is an almost surefire path to suicide.

          • [not a Dr]

            … Do I really need to remind you about Alestorm?

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            No need to be reminded, Alestorm is always in mind!

      • You best leave them copious grilled cheese sandwiches in tribute as well.

  • BaboonKing

    This was one hell of a review. Thanks for the laughs, Diabolus! Actually, some lines are so sharp and biting they remind me of the wittiest moments from Black Adder. Masterful demolition of a truly awful album.

    EDIT: Oh, and expect a royalty cheque at year’s end from me. There’s no way I’m not using “a pale imitation of the Platonic form of meh” every chance I get.

  • Scourge

    What made the embedded track palatable was I closed my eyes and pretended this was a J-rock anime theme song and just pictured a medley of anime openings the whole time. Great review!

  • Six Figure Tax Return Levels of Charitable is the name of my next Post-Rock band

  • OzanCan

    “Oh yeah, let’s put a goth-looking girl with somewhat revealing cleavage on the cover, coz sex sells amirite?”
    No, dude! YOU ARE WRONG!
    We saw that on Leaves’ Eyes and SAVN. Nice racks but a big No. I mean NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Seriously, no! The biggest nope of Nopeness. That’s not even a word. It is now! No!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Seriously, this thing looks and sounds like it should’ve came out in 2005 and can be found in the $1 bins at ever used shop across the nation.

  • DrChocolate

    It’s a terrible sign when everyone in the video looks so damn bored. The plus here is that I now know what it would look like if Elmer Fudd played drums in middling pop metal band.

    Seriously though, what the fuck does that blurb at the end of the video mean? ‘Dedicated to those who … Lost their own lives in the name of nothing.’ Bruh, that’s like deep yo. Word, fuck that name of nothing guy. So powerful.

  • Vassago Gamori

    The saving grace of music this disappointing are reviews and comments so freaking delightful in their damnation.

  • Choodi

    Wow, that was like a poor Eurovision song.

  • eloli

    Since I usually laugh at metal elitism and don’t mind poppy, girl driven pseudometal, at first I thought this article was being just another unfair thrashing on some irrelevant band trying to build an audience brought on by the knee jerk anti popularity, anti fun biases that plague our fine subculture.
    Then, I watched the video, and my world became a little bleaker.
    Yup, this is bona fide awful, not only as metal, but as pop music.
    The singer has an awful voice, can’t carry a tune and is not sexy or even remotely grateful, how does an act like that gets a recording deal?
    The mind boggles…
    Anyhow, the keytar is the only redeeming feature for this band, maybe they should put the keytar guy front and center, we certainly need more 80s kistsch.

    • I demand more gratitude in my metal!

      • eloli

        I actually meant graceful, sorry for the typo. That said, she should be grateful someone things she can sing, or front a band. :D

  • sir_c

    I put this song on and poured me a beer, but the beer went all out of foam :-/

  • Alex Benedict

    To be fair, the embedded track isn’t .5 bad. More like a 2, as in it’s noise and it’s there, and it isn’t really pleasing in the slightest, but it isn’t completely offensive either.

  • JohnC

    I like symphonic metal like Nightwish, Epica, and later Delain (bite me, some pop elements work), so upon first listen I was like “meh it’s not that bad” and now after listening and thinking about it, it sounds like a cheap knockoff of the style. The vocals are the weakest part of this.

  • Adjudant

    She is, however, attractive