Back in 2013, I was handed a box of CDs to review under the pretense of “get as many of these as you can, you can toss the rest”. Flipping through the box I saw this kind of generic hardcore looking cover for a band called Concrete. Pegging it to be a generic, run of the mill, only their 20 friends liked this Hatebreed rip off, I tossed it aside figuring I’d get back to it. I probably ran through a handful of death metal albums and then go to the left overs. It was then this record stood out again. I finally stopped hesitating and just popped it in. I immediately at crow as soon as the opener No Way Out kicked in and although they have released many albums since their debut, Deadlock, this is still my favorite song they’ve ever released. As stated, they’ve released a slew of records since 2013, most recently in the form of their full length, Everything Ends Now. As time went on their albums began to drift away from the no-frills mid-tier heavy (think Terror or Strength For A Reason) into a full fledged mosh assault outing. I was constantly reassured by guitarist, Jon Dorn, with each release they were using more and more metal influences. There is some truth to that but not even in Everything Ends Now did they seem to fulfill their destiny with where they were trying to go. Now here is their 4th release in Free Us From Existence and it seems to finally reached the summit.
If you happen to follow Concrete on any of their social media you’ll notice that the band members more and more donning death and black metal gear. Now while that alone is a silly observation but I’m fully of the mindset that you write with what you are entrenched with. You won’t see me writing a country record because it will come off phony and disingenuous as I don’t listen to a single country act. You write based on what your day in and day out sounds are. That’s going to be what is fresh on your brain when it comes time to put pick to strings. Knowing that these Albany boys have drank the kool-aid on the likes of Behemoth and Belphagor, I had a feeling going in that I was going to hear those influences immediately. Thankfully, it’s not as noticeable for most of the record as I anticipated but I can hear the Nergal influence in Jon Dorn’s guitar playing, especially when you bounce back and forth with any of their other records. While they still have that core foundation, the song writing has taken an obvious turn. While most of this record floats on that deathcore sound full of mosh, it’s not cheesy in like Acacia Strain or Emmure. There is a sense of urgency on most songs to ditch the blast beats and get to the breakdowns but they flow a lot more naturally instead of the breakdowns just being written around. There’s also a new play with accenting melody here that adds a very dark theme to the entire album.
With that being said, there are two very specific standout tracks on this album that are worth the price of admission alone. They are in track 3’s Path Of Fire and the album’s closer Aphotic Mirror. In the former, there is a lot more focus on the groove here. The riff that comes in around 2/3 of the way through the song is probably the single best riff the band has ever produced. The songs flows between mosh and groove metal seamlessly making the whole song sound like a natural, cohesive idea. In the latter, we have easily the best entire song the band has ever written. In the most obvious example of their love of Nergal and Co, this song is a slow building pressure cooker, much like the hit Blow Your Trumpet, Gabriel. It clocks in at just over 6 minutes and never, not even for a second, loses focus. If I were to have to pinpoint one culmination song, this has to be the song they’ve been wanting to get too. It’s such a stunning contrast to anything they’ve released before that I already want them to ditch the beatdown and focus all future efforts into writing more songs like this. It doesn’t need to all be slow but just go full tilt into the metal and leave the moshing for the children.
I can honestly say I’ve been a fan of Concrete since I finally put their first record into my car stereo and have been impressed with their journey thus far, but Free Us From Existence, left me rather speechless for the last week as I tried to form the words to write about it. While they have many solid hardcore songs to pull from for a set, these 7 tracks are going to be the standout songs from now on. You can kill the invisible ninjas with your advanced kickboxing skills or you can just bang your goddamn head, it’s all there for you. This will sound insulting but it’s not; It might have taken 7 years to get here, but Concrete has finally arrived.
Free Us From Existence dropped today on all streaming sites. Check it out wherever you get your music.