The Secret

North Carolina’s Jonin are an interesting prospect. They play a sort of haughty and complex Progressive Metal or AOR but with American Metal or metalcore undertones and they have a superb vocalist that sounds like a mix of Maynard from Tool and Tuomas Tuominen from Fall of the Leafe.

On paper, it’s a very intriguing prospect and at times (mainly due to the vocals of the sublime star in making Stuart Smith) delivers a mesmerising aesthetic of intelligent yet robust metal. However, due to just flat out inconsistent song writing it fails to enthral or entertain for its entirety.

Hindered by a clinical, robotic production and guitar tone (Jamie King’s worst most mechanical, inorganic production effort to date), the shifting, undulating riffs, while appropriately intricate, never really take off or amaze, they are just ‘there’, despite the skill of the players. The hooks are slightly empty and the structures just seem random, even for Prog metal. Luckily though, Stuart Smith basically saves almost every track with his simply stunning performance that elevates the stoic music to listenable levels. In fact, you may only listen to the whole album to hear what he does next.

The tracks run the gamut from angular, weaving intricate, impossible to remember numbers (“The Secret”, “Heel”, “The March”, “Breathing”) to more standard, slightly smoother numbers like “Gathering”, “Liar” and “Flood”) all glossed with Smith’s svelte, layered croons. Think Tool’s general sense of pacing and musical structures but more robust and less well crafted and evocative. Actually musically, Tool meets Fall of the Leafe is a also viable comparison. But even with Smith, none of the tracks truly reach out and grab you and command your attention, its like the band are trying to find their style, and they are just a teeny bit away from nailing it. I’d also like to hear the band be a tad more aggressive as head on “Shameless”, as they seem far less tight and more free wheeling and energetic.

Admittedly though, The Secret is am interesting and welcome change from the hordes of inane, trend following music of late and hints at a band that has the ability (and frontman) to be something special with some fine tuning.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 20th, 2007


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