Listening to a band that claims Conqueror as an influence is like doing a belly flop onto a field of landmines. These are bands for which the word “extreme” doesn’t even begin to cut it, bands whose aural assault often challenges the boundary between music and noise. The genre goes by many names—war metal, bestial blackened death metal, Christblasting necroatomik nuclear goat metal—but it always comes across as punishing and masochistic, the musical equivalent of flagellating yourself with a barbed leather whip. AND I FUKKIN LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT. Satisfying my current need for the extreme is Concrete Winds, a new Finnish act formed from the ashes of death metal band Vorum.1 The group claims their Primitive Force debut takes their previous band’s sound and “drives every audial aspect to the maximum,” which sounds like the perfect antidote to my daily nine to five hell.
Only “drives every audial aspect to the maximum” doesn’t quite capture it. Instead, Force sounds like death metal that was blown apart with a frag grenade and is now being frantically stitched back together on the battlefield, the sound of machine gun fire still chattering in the background. Even for the style, this music is wild. Riffs writhe and contort, chords rushing from abrasive to explosive, while the drums alternately lurch and blast with barely a moment’s respite. The way everything swarms your ears feels borderline cacophonous and at times it sounds like the guitars and drums are barely able to stay in time with one another. As such the most obvious comparisons are Impiety and Deiphago, though Winds also possess a bit of grindcore influence with their shorter track lengths and tendency to not repeat passages. Factor in the vocalist’s scathing rasps and Force‘s 25-minute runtime feels just short enough to prevent your head from exploding.
Anyone who’s sampled music this extreme knows how daunting it can be. Yet like Discordance Axis, the band’s feral energy is addictive and they have enough good ideas to keep one engaged. Opener “Infant Gallow” spends its first minute tearing through the Impiety-meets-grindcore sound before employing a false ending that begets an immense nuclear stomp. Such scorching destruction is offset by the squealing notes in songs like “Sulphuric Upheaval” and “Volcanic Turmoil.” I hesitate to call these ideas “melodies,” but they certainly stand out from the other riffs and are strangely catchy in their own chaotic way. By far the weirdest song is “Tyrant Pulse,” which employs high-pitched riffing over what sounds like a goddamn electronica beat. The song essentially sounds like a blackened EDM track and while it seems ridiculous on paper, Winds succeed in making it one of the best tracks on the album.
Not all the songs are as strong and not all the riffs are that memorable, but the production ensures each moment remains wholly discernible. The guitars are harsh yet clear and wisely avoid the stormy murk often favored by other bands in this subgenre. As a whole Force is loud and abusive, like getting whacked in the face with a sock full of nails.2 Yet for how abrasive they are, the group are surprisingly skilled songwriters. Each one of these nine tracks has its own identity and feels like an actual song rather than just a eruption of aggression. Perhaps the best example is closer “Death Transmission,” which builds off a tumbling and low-register riff before closing with a cyclical progression that turns out to be one of the catchiest moments on the album. The band also garnish these tracks with plenty of ripping and surprisingly melodic solos that make me enjoy Force even more.
Through it all, Winds never lose sight of their main goal: utter musical annihilation. It’s fitting that the band’s Facebook url is “facebook.com/aggressivenoisetorment,” because “aggressive noise torment” is exactly what Primitive Force is. In 1999, Impiety gave us Skullfucking Armageddon. In 2019, Concrete Winds ravage the other orifices. Those who love this style will find Force a balanced and memorable album with surprisingly clear riffs. Those who love, say, Nightwish, will feel like they’re being sodomized with a cattle prod. Only you know which side you fall on.