Concrete Winds – Nerve Butcherer Review

Finnish two-piece Concrete Winds emerged from the ashes of Vorum in 2019, with debut Primitive Force marrying an unrelenting death metal onslaught with a passionate love of gobbledygook song titles. The band’s approach bears a close resemblance to the ferocious stylings of war metal, albeit with less of a blackened edge. Accordingly, while Concrete Winds’ moniker is a head-scratcher, the title of their sophomore effort Nerve Butcherer leaves little ambiguity about how the listener is intended to feel. Past releases by the members of Concrete Winds have racked up a steady string of 3.0’s in these hallowed halls, giving Nerve Butcherer the opportunity to either knock on the door of greatness or regress into mediocrity.

Nerve Butcherer somehow manages to surpass both the frenetic energy and the titular incoherence of its predecessors. The album bears some resemblance to high-octane blackened death titans like Teitanblood and Conqueror, but differentiates itself through even more uncompromising intensity and speed. Concrete Winds’ rhythm section is helmed by drummer Mikko Josefsson, whose punishing performance serves as a linchpin for the band’s attack (most notably on “Noise Trepanation”), while Jonatan Johansson contributes growls that are fiery albeit commonplace. But the bedrock of the record is Johansson’s truculent riffcraft. While the 666-mph riffwork on Nerve Butcherer is largely gripping, the album also creates an atmosphere of frenzied claustrophobia, evoking bands like Sammath on highlights like “Chromium Jaws” and “Noise Trepanation.”

Nerve Butcherer hits hardest when Concrete Winds injects variety into their songwriting. One source of dynamism throughout Nerve Butcherer is the band’s compelling use of diverse meters, a trait carried forward from their debut. Examples abound, like the frantic 3/4 breaks on “Chromium Jaws,” the central 7/4 riff on the title track, and the 6/4 variations on “Noise Trepanation.” These are not gratuitous gymnastics; rather, Concrete Winds’ rhythmic variety both accentuates banger riffs and makes their writing more dynamic. These escapades would be expected from unrelated groups like Cult of Luna and Sunless, but hearing them employed superbly by a band of Concrete Winds’ ilk is both unusual and refreshing. More broadly, the most distinctive parts of Nerve Butcherer are also its high points, like the slow bass-driven 5/4 mid-section of “Dissolvent Baptism” and the irresistible main riff of “Intravenous Doctrine” (the most pernicious route of doctrine consumption). When Concrete Winds takes risks, they pay off.

Conversely, Nerve Butcherer fails to put its best foot forward by frequently resorting to hackneyed compositional techniques. The album’s biggest pitfall is its oddly specific reliance on progressions of chords that each ascend or descend by a single semitone in a chromatic scale.1 Nerve Butcherer is overflowing with such riffs, which sound uninspiring and come off as lazy, particularly as the record progresses (“Intravenous Doctrine,” “Dissolvent Baptism”). This produces a nagging feeling that Concrete Winds ran out of ideas while writing, made worse by the presence of melodies that are almost identical (e.g., “Nerve Butcherer” 1:33, “Dissolvent Baptism” 0:00, “Astomatous Vomiting” 1:24). Moreover, a handful of tracks (“Demonic Truculence,” “Flaying Internecine”) lean on riffs that simply fail to land, lacking the memorable vitality of their brethren. Alas, when the riffs sag on Nerve Butcherer, the rest of the band’s sound doesn’t pick up the slack. Although Josefsson’s pummeling drums ooze infectious energy, Johansson’s bass lines are audible but lifeless (except for the back half of behemoth “Dissolvent Baptism”), and his helter-skelter guitar solos sound like Slayer at their worst. A record that places the riff at the center of its sound can’t afford to be unimaginative in its riff construction.

I struggled to score Nerve Butchererererer;2 half of me thinks it’s fun enough to deserve a 3.5, while half of me finds it repetitive enough to warrant a 2.5. At its best, Concrete Winds’ adept songwriting demonstrates impressive sophistication, has me throwing my fists through walls and people, and carves out a unique niche in the genre. I’ll certainly return to this album and keep Concrete Winds on my radar. But even with Nerve Butcherer’s judicious length of 0.932 Reign in Bloods, its repetitive riffing becomes grating, especially after several listens. If Concrete Winds wants to transcend the commendable 3.0 and reach an upper echelon, they’ll need to vary their formula more. Nerve Butcherer gives me ample confidence that they can accomplish this.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Sepulchral Voice Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. An illustrative example is the riff at 1:30 on “Dissolvent Baptism,” which is just A-G#-G-F# followed by G-G#-A-A#.
  2. Yep, this n00b fits right in here. – Steel
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