Back in 2013, when I reviewed Deadlock, I likened them to a band like Strength For A Reason, as an easy comparison. While those two bands don’t sound a lot alike, they had a similar approach to writing music. Take traditional hardcore but beef it up. Keep it punk but heavier and never drifting into that metalcore world. As time passed on though, the band started experimenting with more metallic ideas. First the riffs got meatier, the production improved and elevated the heaviness, vocalist Lenny Fletcher’s voice started getting deeper, and the metal like riffs started sneaking in more and more. Now that we’re at Everything Ends, it’s clear where the path was leading them. Jumping from Deadlock to Everything Ends, Concrete almost sounds like two entirely different bands but slowly maturing their sound overtime was a much better approach to getting there.
This isn’t to say that Concrete sounds nothing like they did when they first started. It’s not a drastic change like when, say, A Life Once Lost went from metalcore to Meshuggah in one album. Those signature Jon Dorn licks that hooked me in 2013 are still the driving force of each song but now there are Slayer throwaway riffs all over the album and the breakdowns are much more prevalent now. Tuning and distortion choices aren’t too much different than the No Dawn EP but production has improved and the guitars have a lot more bite to them. The bass tone is grimey as fuck and helps to enhance both thicken the guitars and add some more gnarr to them. The drums are groovy as hell and features more double bass than, probably, the bands entire catalog to this point. One I really love is that there is a focus on the ride symbol. I love when drums get into groove sections and ride the shit out of it. Finally, at this point Lenny Fletcher might as well be a death metal vocalist. He’s octaves lower than No Dawn, which up until now, was the lowest his growls had crept. The musicians in the band better start adding blast beats and tremolo picking on the next recording if they want any hope of keeping up.
My only complaint against this record is that there might be about 2-3 too many stops into slow chug breakdowns. I survived the late 90’s/early 2000’s beatdown phase of Jersey hardcore so it’s not like I don’t have a soft spot for them, but I feel that Concrete are better songwriters than that and these were an easy out for them. Don’t get me wrong, these parts are heavy as wrecking balls and people are surely going to get ignorant during them, but I’ve come to expect more out of them than this. It’s these parts that hold a good record back from being great. It could possibly be a situation that they aren’t quite settled in yet with all the new metal elements but I’m already at a point where I’d like to hear more new songs to see what they do with a little more comfort.
If you haven’t been following along with Concrete since the Deadlock days or at all, then this one might be a shock to the system and I’d recommend listening to the other records before dabbling in this. You’ll experience a clear regression going backwards. If you have been on top of this band for the last few years, you will be rewarded for your loyalty. While I have some minimal complaints, this is clearly Concrete still climbing the mountain and never ceasing to giving their audience something more. Everything Ends is the heaviest thing they’ve released to date and they are clearly in the driver’s seat in terms of where they can go from here. The burnout doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.
Genre: Hardcore / Folk
Label: Irish Voodoo Records
Site: Related Link
Similar: Stigmata, Dissent, Absolute Suffering
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