So last year I had the pleasure of getting to review Albany’s Concrete and their split with California’s Hammerfist. It wasn’t my first go around with the band as I also had the pleasure of getting to talk about their debut full length, Deadlock, two years prior. What I noticed immediately was that the band settled into their groove and built upon the foundation set by their earlier work. While Deadlock was, and still is, a great record, you can tell on the split that the band was truly comfortable with themselves and it allowed them to branch out and take a chance on making things heavier. The original straight forward approach, who I likened to a band like Strength For A Reason, who can make traditional hardcore and make it heavy without drifting into the realm of metal, really worked on Deadlock. The gambled paid off on the split. They were able to make their sound heavier and still never crossed that threshold.

I ended their portion of the review in the split with saying “it appears that they have really settled in with writing and I’ll be interested in seeing if they can either build on this or write a full length full of songs of this nature. “ Well, in No Dawn, I didn’t get a full length but I did get another 5 tracks of songs of this nature. Well, essentially that is. Clearly not through with continuing to push their style to its brink, Concrete returns with thunder this time. The guitars sound thicker and deeper. I’m an idiot when it comes to stuff like this but it sounds like they may have dropped their tuning ever so slightly and it pays off in huge dividends because it added some balls to the sound. Hell, even vocalist Lenny Fletcher has gone deeper this time out. It sounds like he’s pulling his voice from his feet. Maybe its years of abuse or all the vaping he talks about in his social media that affected his vocal chords, or maybe he was just pissed in the studio, either way he has never sounded more vicious than now. I hope for any future releases, and there better be some, that he continues with this approach. Lastly, I really appreciate a drummer that can use his entire kit and Ryan uses every piece of while seemingly beating the piss out of it as well.

While there is definitely a notable difference in tone if you compare their early work and this current release, Concrete has never forgotten what got them to the dance in the first place. Make no mistake about it, this is absolutely still a hardcore release. The amped up heaviness never takes away from that and they still never even dabble with true metal. There are still ample amounts of heavy punk riffs that transition into infectious two steps without even touching a breakdown. It’s all about balance and Concrete has seemed to perfect it.

These days hardcore seems to be gravitating towards downtuned, sludge influenced, chug filled mosh metalcore instead of bands of this ilk. Don’t get me wrong, there are still bands flying the true heavy hardcore flag but it’s becoming increasingly rare. Concrete could have easily caved to the pressure and started to partake in some of that nonsense but instead they continue to travel down the road that is increasingly becoming less traveled. As I said in the Deadlock review, they made it clear from the jump that they wanted to write music they grew up on instead of what just happened to be cool and they are still standing firm to that ideology. No Dawn is firmly rooted to the groundwork that Deadlock laid out but sees the band that has grown very comfortable in its own skin to allow them to continue to evolve their sound into something much bigger. While bands like this may never achieve the instant gratification accolades that some of the bigger, trendier bands will get, in the end Concrete will always be able to look back and know that they just wrote good records.

Grab No Dawn digitally through Fast Break Records and iTunes on May 6.