Concrete Icon- Perennial Anguish

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, August 29, 2013

Finnish death/doom band Concrete Icon has been around for about six years now, and has put out several releases since their inception including demos, EPs, and a split. This year the group has released their debut full length Perennial Anguish which offers eight songs worth of slower death/doom and traditional old-school death metal. The material doesn’t fall completely into either category which helps to make the band distinguishable from some of the others out there, but the album didn’t seem to fully hit its stride until the halfway point.

What I immediately liked about this album was the combination of old-school death metal crunchiness and the melodically driven atmosphere of death/doom. Rather than throwing the fast and slow sections together into a single track like some of the other bands in the genre, Concrete Icon has split things up a bit more and gives each of the separate styles plenty of time to steal the spotlight. There are numbers like “Righteousness Decay” that feel like they could have been ripped right out of an old-school death metal album, while other tracks slow things down and up the melody in a way that really enhances the death/doom elements. While the instrumentalists are technically proficient, the first few songs came and went without leaving a truly lasting impression on me. But around the halfway point, the leads started to integrate additional melody and there seemed to be much stronger hooks than before. After this point, even when the band headed back towards traditional death metal territory the riffs remained top notch and were able to maintain my attention. I definitely found Perennial Anguish to be a strong album overall, but found myself gravitating towards the second half on subsequent listens as when the band upped the amount of melodic leads and integrated them into the rest of their sound they benefited considerably.

The vocals stick with a combination of extremely low growls and higher pitched shrieks, which isn’t dissimilar from what the majority of death metal bands have to offer. But I can’t complain when Concrete Icon is able to pull it off so well, as the growls have that type of fullness and intensity that I like so much and the higher pitches are able to help add in some variation to keep things from becoming stale. It’s also worth mentioning that Perennial Anguish is a well-produced and mixed effort, as the vocals play a prominent role in adding to the intensity and energy level but they don’t completely overpower the instrumentals. The group’s definitely got things down when it comes to the vocal mix, and this is one area I don’t think they need any major changes in.

Perennial Anguish comes off as a strong debut full length, but it doesn’t quite reach that truly incredible level. Concrete Icon seems to save their best hooks for the second half of the album, and if they can continue on with this combination of blistering old-school death metal and somber death/doom I think they’ll be able to reach that point. They’re worth checking out now if you’re into either genre though, and I get the impression that all the group needs is just a little more growth and a few additional steps forward and they’ll be truly stunning.

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