As one of Finland’s most legendary bands once sang, we really do have Doom Over the World nowadays. What started off with outfits like Trouble, Candlemass and Saint Vitus inhabiting their own little corners of the earth is now so widespread that a band like Caskets Open can be around for 13 years and release four full-length albums without me ever hearing of them…until now. These guys are also Finnish, by the way.
Released on obscure Polish imprint Nine Records, Concrete Realms of Pain caught my attention right off the bat with “Four Shrines,” a song that sounds like a cross between Saint Vitus and Slayer. This six-minute number starts off slow, with a plodding, smoked out, Dave Chandler-style riff, then wallows in a super-slow tempo for over four minutes, before going full metal-thrashing mad for the final 1:30, with a solid mid-tempo chug and Tom Araya-esque barked vocals leading the charge. Definitely did not see that coming!
“Riding on a Rotting Horse” ups the tempo from the get-go, with a lower-register vocal that reminds me of the Misfits – albeit with a couple of Crowbar-style breakdowns thrown in for evil measure – before slowing down to a vibe more akin to Danzig’s solo debut. “Homecoming” brings us back to downtrodden doom territory, albeit with a cleaner, melancholic approach more aligned with Pallbearer or Warning.
“Tunnel Guard,” which was pre-released as a single (see video below) is another Danzig-type tune; a shorter, more mid-tempo, meandering number with a decidedly gothic edge. This one doesn’t really grab me. From there, “White Animal” slows things back down, with sparse instrumentation and a deep-voiced Danzig/Peter Steele croon (although they later throw in a Tom G. Warrior “Ooh” and a death metal grunt or two). Strip away the lyrics and the vocals and you could call this one post-rock…at least until the first heavy riff hits around the 2:40 mark, when it turns into a decently doomy tune.
Which doesn’t prepare you one iota for the full-on blastbeats that open “Tadens Tolthe.” Although they only last about 40 seconds before it’s back to doom-metal minimalism, giving the impression of tacking a Napalm Death tune onto a Reverend Bizarre record. (The pace and vocal stylings of this particular number are the closest they come to the Reverend, BTW.)
While I gotta give ‘em credit for not simply delivering an album of nine similar-sounding songs, the end result is a little hit-or-miss for me. But I’ll be damned if I don’t add “Four Shrines” to my playlist!