CD, Armalyte Industries, 2010
Maybe I’m just getting my hopes up, but it seems like there is something of a resurgence in what might be called industrial music right now. I’m not meaning your average 120bpm oontz-oontz best danced to with the aid of glowsticks, I’m meaning music that sounds like it was forged from steel by people whose pint you wouldn’t spill. In fact, perhaps it’s no coincidence that we are seeing the return of Godflesh, Front Line Assembly, Pitchshifter and a few others this year, and something of a resurgence of clubs that are willing to play “old-school” industrial and EBM.
And into this environment comes Concrete Lung. Formed, as I recall, by an ex-member of Katscan, there is none of the tongue-in-cheek humour and playfully nasty electronics from that band – here things are a whole lot darker and much, much nastier, with no suggestion of fun whatsoever. Their music harks back to Godflesh in particular, and nowhere is this any clearer than on the bruising opener “Breathe In The Monochrome”. Four minutes of hate, distorted vocals, chugging riffs and a steamroller of a beat that will by no means be to everyone’s taste (my girlfriend being one on the other side of the fence from me here), but to me this is exactly what I want to hear.
So it’s a little surprising to find a pounding EBM beat opening “Recovery Position”, but it’s not long before it’s jostling for space with a drilling riff and groovy synth lines. Vocals are there somewhere, but other than the chorus refrain of “RECOVER”, they aren’t important. It’s the crunching rhythm that’s the killer here. More open-minded industrial DJs could have a field day with unleashing this on unexpecting dancefloors.
For a relatively short EP, you could forgive a new band’s first release if their quality control dropped a little after two tracks as stellar as this, but remarkably it doesn’t at all. “Pyre Burns” is a heavy, slow-moving groove, full of thundering drums and a thunderous, pounding chorus, that is even more astounding for it’s delicate touches like the choruses that allow a little bit of light in.
That light is extinguished pretty damned quickly by the brutal stamp in the face that is the astonishing opening to “Destructive”, before it alternates between wanting to be Ministry, turn-of-the-90s-style, and power electronics, and then at points both at the same time. “Waste of Flesh”, the last of the five new tracks here, starts as an ominous rumble, adds in a filthy, heavy bass line, and grinds out a really heavy six minutes. Tonight, Matthew, they’d like to be Godflesh, and are actually doing a pretty good job in picking up the torch.
The remixes – two of them – are pretty impressive, too. “Sins of Flesh” is a lengthy instrumental retooling of “Waste…” that has a totally different groove and feel to it, while “Graveyard Recovery” takes the EBM stylings of “Recovery…” away and chucks the track in a dark room instead to bash itself against the walls.
This is a very impressive and assured debut, nodding to the past as much as it is attempting to remind people that industrial (or “death industrial”, as they put it) is very much of the now, too. And with material with this much power, it may be that they drag the genre into the present whether it likes it or not. Go listen, now – the first truly vital release I’ve heard this year.
— Adam Williams