Under The Pledge Of Secrecy – Empire Of Bastards (2019)

Under The Pledge Of Secrecy released a new album right near the end of last year as well, entitled Empire Of Bastards. I’ve actually spoken with their guitarist and bassist Thorsten Schieren quite a bit on social media and knew that this one was in the works, but wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it. Schieren criticizes the mainstream music industry quite a bit and rightfully so as they’re not promoting acts like this who really count. He told me that the guys spent a rather high amount of euros on just the production value of this thing and you can hear it on the disc. Not only that, but Empire Of Bastards is one of the most unhinged techy and groovy records that I’ve heard in years. I couldn’t get over this the first time around and I’m still reeling while listening to it again for the coverage.

The vocals on this thing are just as unhinged, with drummer and vocalist Stefan Klebingat spitting absolute bile on the microphone. This man sounds pissed and if for some reason that isn’t coming through in the vocals, it is definitely coming through on the skins. The drumming on this thing can become so overbearingly brutal that you may be able to break windows with it at full volume. Maybe at a high enough volume, you might be able to break through walls. The record sounds like a mix between Carcass, Death, Cynic, Meshuggah and the early days of Carnal Forge. I have no idea why even some of the larger sites in the metal underground aren’t talking about this thing. These gentlemen have released a monster from beginning to end, and there’s just so much ground covered in it. I was actually given a free CD when I ordered the disc and I think at this point I’m going to hand it to another musician I know who always talks about metal being on the wane, and how there’s not as many good bands as there used to be. Nope, this one is fucking great. But you know what really sucks? These guys put all the work into printing five-hundred limited CD’s with bonus EP’s and the whole nine yards, but no one is buying them. They’ve spent extremely large amounts of money and put out a high quality record with a production value that rivals anything that Hollywood are touting these days as heavy metal, yet they can’t get any of these albums sold. WHAT?

Come on folks, you really need to buy this one because you’ll actually enjoy it. Go listen to some of the stuff on their Bandcamp first, but it will probably be a no brainer if you’ve stuck with me through the years. I think I have a good taste in metal for the most part and this disc certainly defines that. If you’re looking for great technical melodies, bombastic drumming that can probably topple an entire house if you played it loud enough and an overall performance that comes from hard work and careful calculation, you’ll find something here. There’s even a well-thought instrumental cut called “March Of The Faceless” that shows the prowess of this band in a completely different light. When they’re not crushing your face, they’re giving a step by step tutorial on songwriting, which is not being technical for the sake of being technical. That seems to be one of the major problems with metal these days as so many Berkeley School Of Music graduates come out of the woodwork to be the next Tosin Abasi. I also think it’s worth mentioning that Lamb Of God are releasing a new album and most people weren’t pleased with the singles, so maybe Under The Pledge Of Secrecy will be a band to fill that void where an act whose musicians have long since mentally thrown in the towel (come on folks, Mark Morton released a pop rock album) and have left the space open for new blood. I’m really glad that Lamb Of God is no longer feeling their oats, because this goddamned scene needs some lifeblood in it ASAP. These guys are only one of those bands that can fill the fucking void and I’m sure that given a day’s time, I could fill the goddamned void with all the great acts I’ve covered over the years.

Though as good as Empire Of Bastards is, the guys said that if they don’t manage to sell enough copies, they may very well call it quits! Folks, we don’t need a band like this to disappear into the sea. Remember Doomeastvan? That guy hung it up a while ago. I know that sucks, because it was interesting doom too. Which never got supported. If you’re not listening, then why should these artists continue? Vote with your wallets and support good music when you’re able because it helps. It also lets the musicians know that people like their music and is the fuel that creates new albums. Even if it’s just one song that you want to buy, go for it. As FlightOfIcarus stated, most musicians are glorified tee-shirt salesmen, so buy a tee-shirt. What would really help these guys would be the mainstream media picking them up, but you either have to be on a reality show, a Hollywood TV show or movie or just do something really awful in order to be picked up by MetalSucks or similar. I’m once again going to blame The BlastBeat Network for this even though I’m sure there’s more to it than that. At any rate, please go check out the album.





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