Secret Shame’s “Calm” is a Deathrock Tale of Troubled Times Exorcised With Startling Emotional Honesty

Secret Shame, photo courtesy the artists

“Calm” by Secret Shame is probably the state of mind this song is a kind of an emotional exorcism to attain given its narrative of chaos and anxiety among a circle of friends and associates. Comparisons to Siouxsie & The Banshees is inevitable as Lena’s vocals have a similar power and versatility. The rhythms are steady and appropriately brooding and the guitar minimal yet melodic and spidery after the manner of early Sisters of Mercy. But when the guitars, bass and drums sync up with the vocals, including the backup vocals, for the choruses the band alchemically attains an electrifying frisson that pushes the sound beyond what one might expect with the intentionally lo-fi recording. The latter actually contributes to a sense that this song could have come out in 1983 or today except that, while also reminiscent at times of Denver’s Your Funeral or a death rock version of The Vanishing, there is nothing museum piece about what the band is doing. It’s moods are introspective and its words unsparing yet poetic and compassionate in their examination of self and socio-political issues—aspects of the music that often seem underappreciated in a lot of dark post-punk. And it is that side of the songwriting that gives the music its powerful emotional resonance. Look for the group’s debut full-length Dark Synthetics out on Portrayal of Guilt Records (yes, run by the great weirdo hardcore band) on September 6, 2019. Listen to “Calm” on Soundcloud and follow Asheville, North Carolina’s Secret Shame at the links below.