The pounding opening bass lines bring us into “Burnt Out From Masking” with its backline of drumming reminiscent of Filthy Phil Taylor, a pure joy to listen to with those stunning guitar lines joining in. The vocals have a gruffness but with a back voice note like priests singing in a Hammer horror film, a rip-roaring start to this album.
As the guitar kicks in for the “Sanist” with the all the warmth of werewolves in full flight trying to rip your throat out, the vocals come at you like a deranged version of Helloween from the Keeper of the Keys era along with guitar work from Tommy that is just superb. There are not many songs out there going on about prejudice in favour of sane people with the fabulous lyrical content that Tommy writes and I think you really have to listen to the lyrics that he writes along with the music as it makes this a complete metal package.
At just under 2 minutes “Internalised Ableism” hits you like Napalm Death on speed with its message on the negativity on the disabled, stunning.
At just over 12 minutes “Just Let Me Last Today” is an epic adventure with Tommy’s natural voice on show on an almost prog rock adventure of haunting keyboards, guitar and a drumbeat to carry it along. There are hints of Hawkwind here and there as you hit the instrumental section at around the 5-minute mark. This is simply stunning. What a track, and if you like your prog, your Hawkwind, then this is for you. Possibly my fav off the album, to hear this live would be immense. He says he is synchronised with beasts, I’m not sure about that, but this song is synchronised on all levels, just breathtakingly beautiful.
The guitar leads us into the haunting “Tear Yourself Free From Those Eyes” with Tommy’s vocals possibly the most mature I have heard from the man as he sings with such depth of feeling. A tremendous track with stunning guitar work and ferocious drumming towards the end.
We are “Navigating Hell” now and are joined by Laura Gilchrist from the awesome King Witch. Laura’s vocals adding a richness and depth to the chorus lines is stunning. The track is a headbanger’s dream, with the drums, guitar and the harmonized vocals of Laura and Tommy marching us along.
Some acoustic guitar and keyboards to take us into “Here is There” as Tommy’s hypnotic vocals take a hold of us and lead this reviewer to Alice In chains and Rooster, the track for me has that grunge vibe from 92, fabulous.
An industrial, haunting start to the last track “Nothing About Us Without Us” has a hypnotic rhythm about it with the music and the way Tommy sings the powerful lyrics. I don’t know about ‘do not rewrite history on his account’ in the lyrics to this track but I am sure history will write about a certain Tommy Concrete in regards to his ability to produce such intense, thought-provoking lyrics and music in a way that no one else has.
This album has amazing depth in lyrical content mainly due to the way Tommy is, and the musical structure is pure Tommy Concrete and a comfort and a joy to hear every time. There are people who say there is nothing new in rock and heavy metal these days and then there is Tommy Concrete, quite possibly one of the most thought-provoking and intelligent writers and composers out there today.
It has been an absolute pleasure to review this amazing composition and listen to words with actual meaning and not just a random collection to make them fit the music. The production on the album is simply stunning but with Brian Ramage at the helm, I would expect nothing less. A pure vibrant joy of doom, prog, rock and pure heavy metal at its creative best. I for one cannot wait to hear some of these tracks live in the not too distant future. Put that album release date in your calendar and get out there and support an artist who I doubt is even at the top of his game yet.
Unrelaxed 2 is released 28th February 2020
Header image by Gary Cooper