SECRET SMILE - THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED (2003, METAL MAYHEM) Ken Barbiero - guitars, keyboards
T.J Gabriele - vocals, harmonica
Scott Wilson - guitars
Todd Wilson - bass
Bobby Ventresca - drums
Secret Smile are a band featured here at GLORY-DAZE in our Interviews section. We finally get the privilege of listening to their new album 'The Road Less Traveled', some months after its release. As the interview with Ken Barbiero and T.J Gabriele alluded to, the band are wearing their 'eighties era' stripes proudly. Not a trace of grunge or new metal to be found. Considering the band and the album are signed to Metal Mayhem, you can be assured that an eighties sound is the prevailing flavour, which should suit your taste-buds to a tee! From Connecticut, Secret Smile have released several albums during their many and varied incarnations since 1993. However with 'The Road Less Traveled', tha band have secured more exposure for their hard work. Helping the band out is Mr Arcangel Jeff Cannata, who assisted on the engineering and mixing front. Also in to lend a hand is Pete Hodson, well known from another local band Z-Plan. Musically their style of melodic rock (for those who know their AOR.. obscure or otherwise) is similar to bands like Fortune (the Boston based outfit from the early 90's), Chicago's Kamera, and a host of commerical hair-metal outfits from the dearly departed nineties.
Shift in by about 40 seconds on track one and you'll encounter the sensational 'Into The Night'. There's some snorting guitarwork here amid the keyboard layers, counter-melodies and pulse driven nature of the song. An excellent start. 'Take A Chance On You' is an anthemic hard rock tune, a lot in common with prime-time Helix for example, while the uplifting 'Stop And Go (Follow Your Heart)' features more interesting keyboard layers and vocal chants, the latter just to remind everyone that Def Leppard were huge in the eighties! The first of the ballads appears with 'Just One More Time', a tender piano/guitar piece which shows the band in their more subdued moments. Take a high-intensity burst of The Outfield styled rock and wind it forward to 2003 and you'll end with 'All About Love' - a nice chorus to boot. Another superb hard rockin' effort comes in the shape of 'Tell Me Why?', a blend of acoustic and electric, but when the band hit their stride, the electrics really cut in! Secret Smile also provide two versions of 'Come In From The Rain' (the latter an undocumented bonus track), while the 'L.A Song' sees T.J let loose on the harmonica on this fun-filled musical frolic about a girl off to seek fame and fortune in the City Of The Angels.
Admittedly, there are some good ideas here, with the overriding theme being proudly eighties based. No confusion there. The band sound really good when they let the hammer down and rock out, however to offset that, I'd suggest that some of the lighter moments require a bit more finesse in the final delivery. The vocal harmonies throughout are excellent though: in fact one of the albums highlights, along with Barbiero's guitar histrionics! There's a lot to like about Secret Smile, and hopefully with a bit more exposure, they won't be such a big secret any longer!
01 Into The Night
02 Take A Chance On You
03 Stop And Go (Follow Your Heart)
04 Just One More Time
06 All About Love
07 Come In From The Rain
09 The L.A Song
10 Tell Me Why?
11 Sounds Of Yesterday
12 Come In From The Rain (acoustic version)
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