Herman Martinez released the much-anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Solopsi Radio, this summer’s Secret Doors Hidden Stairs later this summer. Working with Ahmed Mahmoud and Hank Yaghooti, all three of these men are seasoned vets who’ve played their fair share of shows in the New York City/New Jersey rock scene from the infamous CBGB’s to The Bitter End to The Knitting Factory. Together they’ve brought all their skills to the table for Herman Martinez’s sophomore release, Secret Doors Hidden Stairs. Influenced by bands such as Pink Floyd, Soundgarden and Radiohead, Secret promised to be both melodic and heavy.
It’s no wonder how good it is at the end of the day. It’s not perfect but it marks a return for the 90s style in a bigger way than I’ve heard yet. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, because Herman and company bring more than just something back, they pack plenty of modern punch to go with it. “Phonic Chronicles” is a promising opener but proves to sound like Stone Temple Pilots and wind up just as much Soundgarden. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good way to open by sounding somewhat familiar. It also proves lovers of post-grunge era will have something to bite on.
So, “Fictional Realism” does too but it doesn’t come on as strong, that’s all. It’s still another good track but not enough to light any fires with me. If either one bore it is the latter though. You just get the feeling you’ve heard it before. It takes nothing away from how good Herman Martinez is, nor the other two musicians. But this is also just observing as I go. There was more to it all when I came back to hear it again, and that’s where the beauty came out. You have-to hear it more than once. It goes beyond accessible alternative radio-rock values. But you’ll see that for yourself.
Moving ahead to what has-to be the best track, “Every Letter I’ve Ver Sent” with everything it has going on. It’s not something that grabs you right away. It builds up into an epic piano piece by the time it’s all said and done. There isn’t a moment on the record that comes close to it in my opinion. I could hear this on the radio but it also begs to be heard live. Everything from the guitar to the vocals and all keyboard parts are precisely blended for shining moment. It’s not something to be topped but it’s worth hearing everything on offer either way. It’s all good stuff that follows, no question about it.
“Dogon With The Wind” has a clever title and some clever hooks to go with it, with a sound that crosses Pearl Jam with Days Of The New. It’s another big track but it takes more getting into. Most of this album is hard to take in one swallow. Once you get used to it it’s over though. You can handle anything it brings. This track holds up as well as any other, with some cool change ups about it. I also recommend checking out “Healing Factor” because of its completely different approach to everything. It’s the most laid-back point of the album, and it beautifully contrasts with the others as an instrumental. It makes for a cosmic album.