Concrete Icon
Perennial Anguish

Concrete Icon. The name alone intrigues me. First off, it just has a nice ring to it with its hard “C” alliteration. And, then there’s its ambiguous meaning. Does it literally refer to a religious statue made of concrete or is it more figurative, like something true to believe in? Either way, it alludes to some kind of heaviness, something this Finnish four piece is definitely not in short supply of.

However, with the retro movement in full swing, it’s not exactly the kind of heaviness you might expect to hear on a debut full-length of death metal from Finland. It’s certainly old-school, but it doesn’t come across as deliberately retro or even remotely Scandinavian. Most of their influences seem to come from the US, but combined in a way you don’t hear too often. The vocals, songwriting, and production style resemble the early ‘90s output from straightforward US death metal bands like Massacre, Gutted, and Morta Skuld. Seamlessly woven into that are the grandiose riffs of Morgion and the melancholic aura of Novembers Doom. The effect is a seamless tapestry of classic US inspired death and death/doom that isn’t really groundbreaking, but it does fit into a narrow space between adjacent genres that very few others occupy. For some more modern references, imagine a more concise Indesinence, less technical The Gardnerz, or cleaner Deteriorot.

The group possesses a level of quality, maturity, and confidence belied by their relatively young age and choice of cover art. They know how to hold your interest through their mix of meaty riffs, regal melodies, expressive vocals, and ever-shifting tempos that range from mid to fast paced with some moments of plodding doom. Some tracks are more deathly, others more doomy, but they all flex and heave between brutish and majestic. Opener “Haven Defiled” starts off deadly, but quickly settles into a heavy groove with sullen chords, a few bursts of speed, and a nice, sorrowful solo. It’s a solid introduction and the next few tracks follow suit, but the most impressive tracks actually appear in the album’s second half. “Callous Reaper” stomps and thrashes with vigor while “The Choir of Serpents” marches with thunderous conviction. Vocals reminiscent of Ghost’s contribution to My Dying Bride’s “I Am the Bloody Earth” are a nice touch in the latter. Strangely, the strongest two tracks on the album were saved for very last as both “Monarch in Emptiness” and the title track contain the most memorable riffs, melodies, rhythms, and vocal patterns. The vocalist (unless a guest was used) even does a brief but decent King Diamond impression in the former, something they might want to employ more often (but not too often) in the future.

I don’t see this ending up on any year-end lists, but it’s a very solid debut from a promising band. If they continue along the trajectory of quality found here, the follow-up could be a royal bruiser. Let’s hope they live up to their name.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
October 16th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: E. Thomas

    this is solid- very Morgion-y


  2. Commented by: Jake / Concrete Icon

    Very nice review, we really appreciate it! It’s great to see a reviewer really taking time to dig into our stuff and sniffing the influences haha!


  3. Commented by: Adam Palm

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jake! I’m glad you’re happy with the review. I look forward to reviewing your next album whenever that may be.


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