Over the course of this past year, I’ve written a bit about the Asheville, NC-based goth/post-punk act Secret Shame. And as you may recall, the act — Lena (vocals), Nathan (drums), Nikki (guitar), Matthew (bass) and Billie (guitar) — formed back in 2016 and can trace their origins to the desperate need that all of its members felt to create. “If I couldn’t sing or play music, I would tear my skin off.” the band’s front person Lena explains in press notes. Shortly after their formation, the band released their self-titled debut EP, which quickly established the band’s dark and atmospheric sound paired with lyrics that thematically touch upon issues of domestic abuse, mental health, political and social dissatisfaction and frustration.
Secret Shame’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Dark Synthetics was released earlier this year to critical acclaim — while further establishing an enormous, reverb-heavy sound that seemed to be influenced by Siouxsie and the Banshees and 4AD Records. Interestingly, album single “Calm” was a perfect example of that sound, while featuring driving rhythms, razor sharp hooks and Lean’s vocals slashing through and cutting through the moody and hazy mix. And underpinning the song was an emotional urgency that came from lived-in, personal experience. “There’s not a single word I didn’t write from the pit of my stomach,” Lena says in press notes. “The entire record- even though the song dynamics change- has one solid emotion, which is the struggle of inner turmoil and being trapped inside yourself. It’s the feeling of holding a scream in the back of your throat.” She adds, “Some people avoid writing music that puts them in a vulnerable place, but that’s the place I’m trying to get into, That’s where you’re your most raw and hopefully people will be able to experience it through you. There’s nothing else like it.”
Building upon the growing momentum the band has received since the release of their full-length debut, the members of Secret Shame have toured to support the new album, which included an apt Friday the 13th stop at The Broadway and a Halloween set that featured Joy Division covers. Along with that, Secret Shame recently announced a series of remixes of Dark Synthetic material that they’ll be releasing over the next few months, as they return to the studio to record new music slated for release next year. The first remix finds XOR turning the guitar-led “Calm” into an icy and industrial synth banger, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering beats while retaining the song’s intensity, vulnerability and ache, and Lena’s powerhouse vocals.