Secret Cutter – Self Titled (self-released, 10 February 2014)
Secret Cutter – Quantum Eraser (self-released, 06 July 2018; dist. by Deathwish Inc. [N.A.] / Holy Roar Records [EU])
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania — in the heart of the Lehigh Valley — was named for the canonical birthplace of Jesus, while today it’s better known as the birthplace of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Well, that, plus the fact that (like our own hometown on the opposite end of the state) it served a pretty significant role in this country’s steel industry.
While the city is not exactly known as a hotbed of musical activity (losing out to neighboring Allentown in terms of songs commemorating the working class), it has given us a trio who produces an utterly brutal blend of sludge and grind: Secret Cutter. In this article, we’re going to check out that band’s first two full-length records, the second of which sees the light of day today!
The Self Titled album from four years ago serves as a great introduction to the band and their unconventional blending of styles: while the first couple songs explode out of the gate with fast-paced spastic grind, the next few introduce some slower tempos and post-hardcore elements — leading one to wonder whether such a thing as “grindgaze” exists?
Some of the later tracks such as “Vow of Poverty” and “End of Sylvan” actually sound just like grind riffs slowed to a crawl — like a warped Rotten Sound record played at the totally wrong speed. Closing out the record, “Headache Ball” and “Driftwood” take things even further in the direction of mid-tempo dischordant sludge, with both of them dripping with distortion and feedback. The former of the two in particular really is overwhelming in its use of piercing feedbacky noises throughout.
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The trio’s brand-new follow-up seems to continue along the exact same trajectory begun by its predecessor: nearly all of these songs are even heavier and sludgier than what came before. Plenty of post-hardcore and “grindgaze” elements abound here as well; some of the songs such as “Trampled by Light” even introduce a slight bit of an industrial aesthetic.
Occasionally spastic and feedback-laden, Quantum Eraser is probably what it would sound like if someone took that bit where the band comes back in at the end of “Helter Skelter” and expanded it to the length of a full LP. But again, mostly heavier and sludgier, and progressing even further in that direction towards the end of the album: “Mantis,” “Doormat,” and especially the appropriately-named “Avalanche.”
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Secret Cutter Summer Dates
7/13/2018 – Lucky 13 Saloon, Brooklyn NY (w/ Hell to Pay, Phantom Pain)
8/01/2018 – Howlers, Pittsburgh PA (w/ Noisem)
8/17/2018 – The Trocadero (Upstairs), Philadelphia PA (w/ Enemy Soil, Congenital Death)