Poverty’s No Crime – A Secret To Hide Review

What hidden algorithms of the universe determine who makes it big and who forever lingers in the underground? It can’t be talent alone. Some bands rise to meteoric popularity on rehashed material with all the charm of regurgitated cardboard. Others play brilliant music with unique identities for crowds measured in the dozens. And somewhere in-between, there are those who spend decades playing second fiddle to both new and established acts, apparently stuck in a static level of popularity that never seems to budge either up or down. It’s this last category where we find the longstanding but awkwardly named entity Poverty’s No Crime, a progressive quintet from Germany who celebrate 30 years of existence with their 8th album, A Secret To Hide.

So what can you expect from these veterans? Poverty’s No Crime plays a very archetypal brand of progressive metal as developed in the mid-80’s by other genre veterans such as Fates Warning and 90s acts like Dream Theater. This means expansive songs that still hold on to classic verse-chorus structures, recognizable riffs and melodic leads, but allow for a lot of exploration upon the motifs within these tracks. The Germans have considerable experience playing this style, and this quickly shows in the self-assured songwriting which does a good job at showcasing the band’s array of different moods and speeds. Over the course of an hour, we’re treated to soaring power prog, melancholic reflectivity and brooding riffs, and the band largely manages to avoid repeating themselves too much or let boredom sink in.

When an artist has been around this long, they usually change and evolve, or they stagnate, getting stuck releasing what’s practically the same album repeatedly. Now, I am certainly no expert, as this is my first rendezvous with Poverty’s No Crime, but a quick perusal of their early years showed me a band not terribly different from their current iteration. Indeed, the music itself doesn’t seem to have left that space previously cleared by some of the mid-80’s prog giants, and one area where A Secret To Hide is severely lacking is a strong sense of identity. If I hadn’t heard it previously, I might’ve attributed any random track here to half a dozen other bands. In this regard, it’s not terribly surprising that they haven’t managed to clamber out of the underground over the last three decades.

That’s not to say this is not a quality album or or that it’s phoned in by a band running on autopilot, though, because there’s plenty of skill and passion here. “Flesh and Bone” and “Schizophrenic” are two of the more energetic tracks, both filled with excellent hooks, and the latter particularly permeated with a darker tone that works well. The riffs and melodies flow with a lived-in ease that makes the time pass by faster than you realize, even if the running time does wear a bit thin. The vocals are smooth and expressive, if occasionally a tad pinched in the higher registers, the instrumentation is universally sound and the production is solid, though perhaps a bit overpolished.1

Poverty’s No Crime’s long tenure is not without reason. Most bands that aren’t doing something right aren’t going to survive that long.2 A Secret To Hide is not the best or most original piece of progressive metal. It’s a bit long in the tooth, and the vocals are merely average despite the experience level. But there’s a lot of passion and energy in this, and the fellas still know how to write a good hook or two. Seems to me they are a solid and dependable outfit for this style. If you’re not already a big fan of prog metal, particularly of the Fates Warning ilk, you can probably skip this one without missing much. If you are, though, there’s definitely worse ways to spend an odd hour.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metalville
Websites: povertys-no-crime.de | facebook.com/povertysnocrime
Releases Worldwide: April 30th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. If you’re looking for grit.. Well, you probably moved on the moment I mentioned Dream Theater.
  2. I said most, not all. I am aware Anvil still exists.
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