RIYL: Pat Benatar fronting Deafheaven, Desperate Journalist, Ganser

We’ve mentioned this before and we probably will say it many times for as long as Lena Machina (vocals, synth), Aster Nema (guitar), Matthew (bass, backing vocals), and Nathan Landolt (drums) are together – Secret Shame are one of the very best bands of the past five years. By the time 2025 rolls around, they could very well be known as one of the quarter-century’s finest and most influential outfits. They already have released one great album – their 2019 debut, Dark Synthetics – and their sophomore full-length, Autonomy, is shaping to be another outstanding effort. The North Carolina quartet have given a glimpse of what is to come in “Hide”, “Luxury Bitch”, and “Color Drain”. As great as these songs are, the final single before the LP’s release is arguably the best of the bunch.

“Zero” is spectacular. It is, hands down, one of the five best songs we’ve heard all year. In the first half, Secret Shame brilliantly bridge the Gothic, dark-pop of the ’80s with the stark post-punk of the 2020s, and they execute this patiently and precisely. Nothing is hurried, which allows each rhythmic pulse to feel heavier and every guitar riff sound more steely and striking. The approach allows Machina’s powerful voice and her poignant and devastating lyrics to shine. Machina shares her struggles – addiction, body dysmorphia, abuse, and mental illness. She holds nothing back, leaving us to feel every word and emotion.

“I cry in the doorway,
But make sure to be quiet
I’m so sick of hating myself
Can’t I get a grasp?
Halls of littered bottles
I will drink until I’m dead
We do so much to hurt ourselves
And choose to not notice

She’s always in trouble
Does she like to be hurt?
They tell me I’m dramatic
Or they tell me that I’m too pure
Stupid bitch,
Crazy bitch
Moments filled with excitement
And moments filled with dull silence
And mania and violence”

The band, too, hold nothing back in the track’s final 80 seconds. A primal scream is heard in the background as Machina’s voice rises. The melody also transforms, as Deafheaven-esque blackgaze is infused. The outro is raw, cathartic, and seismic. It’s an unforgettable moment from a band that will not be forgotten anytime soon.

Autonomy arrives October 28th and can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp. We’ll say it again: it’s going to be a great one.

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