(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Concrete Age, along with our premiere of a full album stream.)
Technical thrash-style riffing? Check. Melodic death metal styled melodic approaches and emotive song-writing? Check. Eastern ethnic cultural instruments and influences? Check. Raw thrash/hardcore styled vocals that have a complete disregard for technique and are all passion? Check. Concrete Age encapsulate a lot of things I love in extreme metal.
If this were a different time, these guys would definitely be classified under the so-called “Neo-thrash” tag alongside Hatesphere or Carnal Forge or even Darkane. Their music is more technical melodic death metal, I guess, with a great deal of Eastern ethnic instrumental moments and melodic tendencies.
The Totem Of The Great Snake, Part 1 is an immensely powerful album and is also the best melodic death metal album of the year that I’ve heard by FAR so far. Big deal, considering the style’s been in a real slump the last couple of years.
This band is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist/composer/artist-of-the-album-art-above/madman Ilia Morozov. There’s multiple releases under this project’s name — this album is actually the fourth — but Morozov was determined to take this one to the next level and acquire a full-time line-up, as well as take the music even more seriously than he had before.
After a move from Russia to London and a lot of hard work, I’d agree that he accomplished his goal of a major musical step up. The older material is good, but it’s made poor by comparison to Totem…. Ilia’s dream to mix melodic, catchy, yet fearsome thrash and death metal, along with mostly tribal musical elements on a percussive and melodic note, has been impressively realized.
If I had to draw comparisons, the three central bands I’d use as reference points are Darkane, Kartikeya, and Melechesh, as there are also some slight Middle Eastern black metal touches at work. Morozov’s vocals also bear a resemblance to ex-Darkane vocalist Andreas Sydow in tone, including his melodically inclined harsh vocals during the chorus moments.
This album is crazy diverse. Every song explores a different theme or platform of riffing, rhythm, and melody. The title track, which is also the opener, is all about a frantic, exceptionally well-crafted thrash foundation and an epic melodic chorus of the sort that would make Darkane proud. “Bon” is a galloping groove with a machine-gun-fire underbelly, supplemented by a killer hook of a main riff.
“The Black Wings Of Shaman” is more of a groove-driven Middle Eastern black metal song with introspective melodies, lush guitar layers, and a killer solo by Morozov that probably lit the guitar on fire while he was recording it. And on that note, I want to point out that Morozov is a KILLER shredder. This guy understands how to play fast-as-fuck solo’s that still have memorable mini-hooks and emotion to them. I’d like to see him get more recognition for what he can do.
As with what normally catches my ear, the riffs of Concrete Age are intensely strong. The technical, hooky, and consistently active nature of Morozov’s thrash-driven guitar necromancy is absolutely the strongest thing about the band. His sense of diversity is impressive as well, as while thrash-driven melodic death metal is definitely the goal, there’s thrash riffs, black metal riffs, death metal, prog metal, and traditional heavy metal riffs in the mix, too; the guitar front is true unbridled refined metal pedigree.
The thrash/prog rattlesnake dance of “Last Temptation” is one of my favorite songs on the album (maybe my favorite) for the way it effortlessly meshes the concepts within it. I like the songs having their own ethos aside from the fantastic riffs, though. The tribal shimmy of “Prey” and the Fear Factory-esque, rhythm-driven tank of “Lost Shadows” are equally impressive. The album’s closer, “Ghosts Of Sahara”, is a standout as well. It ditches all the band’s other stylistic proclivities and closes the album on a whiplash-inducing, Bay-Area-style thrash epic.
Concrete Age gave us permission to stream this album, so I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have. I’ve listened to this about 50-60 times now? I’m in love.