If there’s one facet within hardcore or metal that is unsettling, it is that there is a high degree of selfishness these days as the focus more and more becomes of egotistical wants and needs. The individual craves attention, a desire for recognition and self-worth. Unfortunately, our desires inevitably become cravings stemming from morally depraved actions set forth by disdained beliefs against humanity. A set of convictions that we hold blindly within ourselves in order to find whatever meaning or depth this reality may have. No, we become consumed by how people view us or how our identity plays a role in this dismal existence we call our life. For what it’s worth, this often misconstrued realm is frequently disregarded or abused by many hapless souls. Actions create events while conflictions induce collisions. Pain is spilled from our the hands as to stain the cloth of the bearer who spilled it. Days, weeks, and months can go by but those endless nights awake will still leave you thinking how that stain never ought to be there.
We all have something that keeps us awake at night. When we were children it was about what imperiling entity lurked in the shadows or of some simple displeasure we noticed about the day. It’s not to say anything has changed as nearly as it has become more imposing that this is one big bad world. Death is inevitable and deceit is guaranteed. For many in this society, every day is a fight for survival and as cliche, as that fucking phrase is, there is no doubt that the mind has a tendency to stir our thoughts into a whirlwind of self-loathing and despair. Fuck, I’ve sure as hell spent many a night laying motionlessly in bed while ingested by a state of piercing anxiety. Nothing but harrowing thoughts whilst dwelling on every bad hand that was ever drawn by my part.
If there was ever a band out there right now that was able to sincerely respond towards those feelings and misanthropy? The maliciously impending hardcore unit better known as Concrete, have found one hell of a soundtrack for the demons that keep your peace at bay.
For those who have yet to know, Concrete is a New York based hardcore outfit straight out of Albany, New York; a prominent scene that delivers quite the punishing style of music. The album that I have had the pleasure of spinning has been their second and highly maturing contribution of work titled Everything Ends. A tormenting record that expresses life’s miseries and the strength needed in order to live through it. For what it’s worth, Everything Ends is sure to be a staple point of what will be a healthy discography. Shit, these boys are pumping out music faster than most bands can even get time to practice.
If there is one statement I’d like to open up this review with it would be that the transition from 2013’s Deadlock is one of personal growth and musical progress. Like any project, one’s first delivery of music is often met with inadequacy or control. In better terms, a lack of proper songwriting and fluidity in constructing a record as a whole piece. Now, is this to say that Concrete’s debut should be considered unfavorable or critical to fault or error? Absolutely not. However, when we present their initial work towards a comparison to Everything Ends, we the listener can hear a drastic difference between these compositions. The maturation is inherent within the introductory track, Pure Strength, as it lays the foreground of what is truly a crusading behemoth of a fucking record. Each track plays as a separate and distinct identity with very little room for confusion or similarity against one another. At the same time, this harrowing bit of sound is able to present the listener with an unmistakably pronounced tone. A haunting sound due to none other than the formidable force known better as Concrete. Elements of thrash, power violence, and variants of metal and hardcore are found throughout this record. It is as if the members of this band came together to create something that they themselves could enjoy without a care in the world of what others may or may not think. That mentality alone aided in producing what is undoubtedly a well-crafted hardcore record centered around vengeful riffs and roaring drumming. The influences within this composition are varying so do take the time of day to pick this one apart.
In terms of strings, the riffs are charged with fury and aggression. A down tuned level of bellowing lows and crunching mids that produce various levels and speeds of heaviness throughout this rather ranging record. Out of anything, I am just fucking thankful for a hard hitting record that nailed the recording, mixing, and mastering process for the drums. It fucking hits and I am just glad that there seems to be quite a chemistry between the strings and skins on this project.
There is quite a bit I’d like to break down from this record but due to time and content as restricting factors, we will keep this rather short and to the point. So let’s appease the writer that I am and the please the reader that you are and wrap this up by reflecting quickly on the lyrical outpour of emotional distaste found within Everything Ends. The lyrics are that of Concrete’s frontman Lenny and the dwelling thoughts that consumes his rest. Topics of suicide, animal cruelty and the selfishness of humanity is persistent throughout these songs inspired by what truly keeps us up at night. These aren’t just words, they are both the cries and screams against the throngs and woes of this hellish reality. You can feel the resentment and pain from this record while feeling an enormous amount of strength and perseverance within your heart and soul to take a stand against torment.
Everything Ends is slated to drop on June 30th off of Irish Voodoo Records. From the numerous listens I have given this sophomore release, I can easily say that this mortifying twelve inches of record is one that will separate themselves from the rest of the pack. A distinction of sound and character that lacks in comparison towards the lot of fakes and washed out acts that fail to present something half as authentic than this tough as nails of a record. The interview below will answer questions in regards to touring and the future of what is sure to be a steady rise to the top.
HEAD WALK: Where did the band go to record this monstrous ripping behemoth of a record? Was it an easy process or were there headaches during the recording process? With that, how has Irish Voodoo Records played its part as a record label towards releasing your music?
Jon: We recorded at The Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with Dean Baltulonis. He recorded Ill Blood and a ton of other iconic hardcore records. I know he just did Cruel Hand and was recording the new Backtrack the week after we were there. Then we had it mastered by Brad Boatright of Audiosiege in Portland, Oregon.
Dean knows what he’s doing, so for us, we really just had to go in there and play our instruments. He’s very laid back and while we have no idea how he does what he does, we couldn’t be happier. With a band like us that can’t spend weeks at a time in the studio, we just have to go in and crush it as quick as possible. It’s always cool hearing what you’ve been working on for months, come together.
As far as Irish Voodoo goes, we put out our split with Hammerfist, through them in 2014. Irish Voodoo isn’t the biggest label in the world but Joey (Irish Voodoo) cares about hardcore and punk. He works hard for his bands and helps them in ways you don’t always get with bigger labels. For instance on a West Coast run, he helped print some merch for us on tour, saving us shipping costs and helping us with what we needed to make it through the tour. He also did the physical release of our last record. It was kind of a no-brainer to go work with him again because he does exactly what he says he’s going to. His roster is also an incredible mix of bigger bands and bands that are on the up and up. He does it because he loves the music and really what else is there? He’s been nothing but supportive of us and he works his ass off.
HW: From hints of power violence to crushing hardcore and blistering metal, Everything Ends has a seemingly fitting mix of combining all of these above-mentioned elements. Who, or what, do you find an influence on how you write, construct, and create this music?
Jon: We all listen to a lot of different types of heavy music. From old NYHC to thrash metal and death metal, we’re fans of it all. A lot of the writing came from Lenny and I sitting in a room in my house listening to different albums and trying to recreate the feelings we got when listening to our favorite records. Other days Derek or Dave would come to practice with their own riffs or even Ryan would have new drum patterns that would just change the entire dynamic of the song.
We spent a lot of time rewriting and evolving the riffs and beats until we got what we wanted. It is definitely a mix but it’s a mix we like. We used to come up with riffs and say “Well that is cool but it isn’t CONCRETE.” Somewhere along the way, we decided “Fuck it, if we like it? Let’s do it.” Why limit ourselves and make it boring?
HW: In comparison to your previous releases, how was the process of choosing a recording studio this time around? Was it the same spot or did you venture elsewhere?
Jon: This was the first time we ever returned to the same studio to record. We were really happy with how the last record (No Dawn) came out and even though this record is completely different, we knew Dean would make it to what it needed to be. He used some new mics on this and I think it worked out well with the heavier sound. He also suggested Brad, of Audiosiege, for mastering. In the past, we had used Alan Douches of West West Side and while he was always incredible for us, it was time to try something new. Brad made it huge and was also easy to work with.
After our van accident last year on tour and trying to get it ready for this year while recording a full length- money was also an issue. Dean and Brad have worked on some of our favorite records by some of our favorite bands and were also super affordable for bands on a budget. Everything they turn out is incredible and they don’t sacrifice anything. Whether they’re doing something for some of the biggest bands in heavy music or a smaller band like us.
HW: Lyrically, this record is rather fucking sound. Every track is but an honest reflection of the writers crushing reality and the pain it inevitably holds. What were the intentions behind writing this record’s lyricism?
Lenny: The majority of the lyrics I write are written at three in the morning or later. My mind goes into this weird place where the lines of emotion and reality are very blurred. Some of the stuff was so strange and violent that the guys had to ask if I was really ok. Tried my best to stick to certain subjects that I really wanted to touch on this time around. For example, “False Master” is about animal abusers, particularly these assholes that partake in dog fighting. I wrote “Mortality” after seeing the horrific video of that very young girl, Kaitlyn, that hung herself on Facebook live. I’ve suffered for many years with a strange form of manic depression, so the words were written as if she and I wrote them together. “Everything Ends Now” symbolizes our disregard of genres or specific sounds & styles. I wanted to have no boundaries and nobody’s desires in mind but our own. The lyrics are very dark and straight to the point of it all.
HW: Graphic Nature put together one hell of a tour package for y’all to jump on. What should people expect as the opener of what will surely be an explosive and high energy ridden tour?
Jon: Absolute Suffering has been friends of ours for a while and they’re fucking heavy. We were hanging out at a show we played together back in October I think, and we talked about touring together. We were already booked in April for a run with Additional Time, from Germany, and Absolute Suffering had a much busier schedule.
Yet, neither of us knew what summer was going to bring. In January I hit up Luke (Absolute Suffering) and asked him if they were down to do this run and that was it. We’re really excited to be on the road with so many good bands every night and it’s definitely going to be an intense string of shows. We’ll be playing mostly songs from the new record and we’re excited to be setting it off. We like being the opener cause it’s like being the underdog. We’re going to go hard every night and hopefully leave people asking “What the fuck was that?” In a good way (laughs)!
HW: What’s the plan for Concrete after the summer? Any plans to tour off of the new material a bit or do you have anything else in the works?
Jon: We’ve got some other shows which are currently unannounced. We were supposed to be playing a fest with Cold As Life, King Nine, and Absolute Suffering in Puerto Rico, but the promoter ran into some trouble so that was just recently canceled. We’ll be playing a couple fests and seeing how the record takes off. Then be back touring in the winter/spring and summer again. We’ll also be writing again ASAP.
HW: Any last words or shout outs before we wrap this up?
Jon: For the people that have supported us or checked us out, thank you. I think a lot of times people complain about all the fakes and issues in hardcore but forget to look at the good shit.
There are so many good people and good bands out there that you might not know of because they aren’t playing the huge shows. Support your locals because they may end up being something bigger. Too many bands to name everyone here, but again, thank you.