Album Review: Concrete Winds – Nerve Butcherer

Album Review: Concrete Winds - Nerve Butcherer
Reviewed by Sam Jones

So I’ve known of Concrete Winds for a little while now however I had not been able to get round to properly checking them out. Here, with Nerve Butcherer, is that golden opportunity to see what makes this band tick. Concrete Winds are only a pretty new creation having only formed back in 2019 and yet have still managed to release two full length records in that time. Formed out of the ashes of previous band Vorum, who disbanded in 2018, Concrete Winds, born out from Helsinki, Finland is the brainchild of Mikko Josefsson and Jonatan Johansson who sought to create a Grindcore sound that was truly lethal to the listen. Their first full length effort dropped midway through 2019 titled Primitive Force; the first sign of what devastating and primal angle the band would be taking throughout their burgeoning career. Now two years on we have their upcoming sophomore release Nerve Butcherer which appears poised to once more strike us over the head with more vicious and barbed wire aesthetic to keep us firmly frightened of the animal nature within us all.

No warning, no easing into it, the band have less than half an hour of runtime to work with and so they waste zero time at inducing you to every ounce of carnage and vitriol they can afford to throw at you. The most immediate thing about this instant onslaught however are the vocals if you ask me, more specifically because they aren’t just the typical Napalm Death-styled gruff and rapid fire delivery that we often get from Grindcore bands. If you listen closely to what Concrete Winds offer, the vocals are fast and possess zero subtlety over what they want to do to you. But the big thing here is how they feel, it’s not simply the case of having your head slammed against a wall as it is feeling the skin peeled off your bones as the vocals quickly subject you to a dry, coarse delivery that you can feel within the vocalist’s throat. We can of course state how other Grindcore vocal performances may harness more power but Concrete Winds certainly understand how to make you feel trapped and at their mercy.

Aesthetically it’s interesting how the band keep up this notion of a dry and unique Grindcore style. We’ve seen this in the vocal performance but the same can also be said towards the riffs and the guitar tone they’ve adopted for what is basically their identity. The guitar work itself has a much thinner and abrasive texture and as a result, it instils this more suffocating and uneasy atmosphere. Instead of barrelling their audience with a slew of violence that’ll involve physical exertion on your being, Concrete Winds have crafted something that seems to strike us deeper at our hearts that bypasses anything physical harm could accomplish. However, since that approach to riffs is so different to usual Grindcore aesthetic and songwriting it is much easier for it to settle in your memory as the band differentiate themselves just enough from the slew of Grindcore acts that have cropped up in the last decade or so.

Album Review: Concrete Winds – Nerve Butcherer

By possessing a riff delivery and aesthetic that is thinner and captures a much more chaotic sensibility, it’s actually rendered the drums within the mix to strike with a more pronounced and clearer performance. Sometimes Grindcore records have the tendency to lean towards a baffling and overpowering performance that sees all the instrumental elements come together in that crescendo of ferocity. Concrete Winds however, certainly feel more structured in their band makeup throughout the album as it certainly feels easier to make out exactly where we are during our listening experience. Everything still comes together as the band pick up intensity however you’re able to pick out the individual components that craft the band’s performance, such as how the drums don’t feel so drowned out. Blast beats come through with organically sounding timbre as the band imply little has been altered here or there to give the drums the sound they possess herein. Since the mix feels so balanced it’s enables the band to come across as much more coherent in audibility and cohesive in their interplaying with each other. Drumming is vicious here in the same way the sharp, piercing end of a blade is when inches from our eye; that dangling and morbid fear of something so sharp and gleaning from a vulnerable part of ourselves.

Earlier, we touched upon how the band have a quick runtime for their full record. However, with each of the last few points brought together it paints a picture of an album that’s much more aggressive than other Grindcore albums may otherwise come off as since the band aren’t vying for something that feels overly pulled together. The band may have a greater likelihood at enabling us to understand how the album has been pieced together however that hasn’t prevented them from implementing power at every turn and moment of the record. But you then throw in the desire for speed and, it suddenly lends the band’s performance a desperation and frantic annihilation that many albums I’ve heard this year can’t match. It’s not merely a desire to get you from A to B, it’s an innate and primal necessity to keep moving forward even sometimes at the expense of their own sanity. This album moves in the same vein as unhinged schizophrenia may subject a dishevelled mind, but it’s speed still feels firmly under disciplined control. It never escapes us, forever feeling like we’re only barely clinging on to what maelstrom this record is whipping up as it accumulates intensity and madness.

In conclusion, this is a Grindcore album that is going to have you by your shirt and won’t let go until the record is done. It’s a much more visceral and penetrating kind of Grindcore record in that respect whereby, instead of a compact and clenched soundscape Concrete Winds instead offer us something that sounds more open yet just as tightly wound together. Nerve Butcherer therefore, excels at this devastating and cohesive yet open-floored album if you will. The record may be under half an hour long but it’s still amazing how much the band manage to implement within their runtime here, tracks may be short but they never feel like they’re wasted or don’t add anything to the bigger scheme of the record. There’s plenty going on here to keep you occupied and even as the album closes out, the band demonstrate no signs of alleviating the pressure they’re placing on you. Mercy isn’t part of Concrete Winds’ forte.

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