Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Friday, February 3, 2023

Review: Concrete Bastards – Closer to the End

Label: Self released

Date: October 24th, 2022

When placing the word “concrete” in the band’s name, one makes a certain promise. It very much makes sense to find d-beat or crust in the description of the music behind such a moniker. Other genres that would fit could be stoner or sludge. Perhaps even that old school, distorted Swedish death metal. In any case, you would expect a grainy, uneven and utterly painful bareback tug behind an eighteen-wheeler down the worn-down tarmac of some outlandish road in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps on one of those post-apocalyptic looking pathways through the US deserts.

Unfortunately, these types of music most often lead to uninventive, uncreative and downright boring outputs. One could argue that genres such as those mentioned above had past their prime and even if there are exceptions that spark out from time to time, they still boil down to endless repetitions of washed-out patterns.

Fortunately though, Concrete Bastards do not dwell on such nonsense. Aside of using the famous Fredman studio for mixing and mastering the record, the Greek quartet spreads their wings far and wide, leaving this d-beat distorted soundscape as just one of the number of differing ingredients for the tasty dish that is “Closer to the End”.

All of those ingredients put together, it is easy to simply dub this record a punk one. Nine songs in under half an hour could also be a dead giveaway, particularly if you know that the last track is six minutes long crusty blues called “Wartime Blues”. Still, other than that bluesy part, the other influences for these sons of Zeus are mostly buried deep in the punk districts.

Namely, the d-beat is laid there as somewhat of a foundation to the sound that is, correct me please if I’m wrong, fairly original to Concrete Bastards. Seriously, if anybody knows of other bands sporting similar music, let me know. Next in line, as the band’s own description suggests, hardcore punk in the vein of old American heroes. Westside melodic approach, meeting the eastside toughness, mingled in an “Ignite vs. Madball deathmatch”. To name but the most apparent ones, as I’m sure the connoisseurs will pinpoint it much more accurately. Not forgetting the European roots, Greece gave us democracy, but UK gave us Oi! punk. While the British are pretty slow in getting acquainted with democratic values, here are four Greeks who easily implemented a few of those Oi! postulates into their music. I will “blame” the mentioned Fredman studio for “Closer to the End” sounding overall a bit on the heavy metal side. Of course, the same could be said for the band obviously kneeling at the undead altar of mighty Motörhead.

A special mention is necessary for the lead vocalist. To be exact, the color of his voice is the one that deserves it. Which is, of course, not to his own credit, but the nature that has blessed him with it gave us a very recognizable singer. Nowhere near a regular occurrence in hardcore or punk. A deep voice, best suited for some stoner rock act, with expression and performance as portrayed on “Closer to the End”, fits perfectly. What’s more, it gives further points of reference to Concrete Bastards. Somewhat on the other side of the vocal palette spectrum to Zoli, the former vocalist of mentioned Ignite.

If there’s a fault to be found here, it would be in the lyrical department, though there’s really nothing much to complain about. The words are fully socially conscious, calling out the corrupt system humanity opted to adopt and the lack of wider resistance to it by those who deem themselves outsiders. Concrete Bastards are not afraid to yell out at their own either. Majority of punks even are constraining their resistance to social media, all the time failing to stand behind their own words when it counts. The topics are not the problem here, naturally. One cannot expect anything less than what I just mentioned out of a punk band. My issue lies in the relative misuse of clichés. The messages are pretty direct and most of them uttered in simplistic ways. There’s very little depth behind the lyrics. Like I said, it’s definitely not a big issue and most people wouldn’t mind or even notice. Neither would I if I wasn’t “obliged” by the mission to be a reviewer who has to take it all into account.

Be that as it may, Concrete Bastards deserve a massive thumbs up for this record. Seeing how this is their very first long player (though I have no idea about the backstories of any member) makes it even more commendable. The energy, the power and their biggest achievement, their originality, are all points that could get this record into the top of many “best of 2022” lists. At least in hardcore punk publications that definitely need to take heed for this band and this album. It would also land quite high in my list for Abaddon Magazine, but we’re not going to be doing that.