Review: “Bardo Thodol” by Concrete Age

Founded by multi instrumentalist Ilia “Frosty J” Morozov (vocals, guitars, ethnic instruments) in a small town in the South of Russia in October 2011, in November 2015 Concrete Age relocated to London to continue their illustrious career. In their time to date they have brought us no less than seven albums from 2012’s “Time to Awake” to 2020’s “Spirituality“, each one combining elements of ethnic music in a similar fashion to Tengger Cavalry, Sepultura or even Alien Weaponry with Death and Thrash Metal. For the journey Morozov is joined by guitarist Boris Zahariev and a rhythm section of Giovanni Ruiu on bass and Davide Marini on drums and now together they explore “Bardo Thodol“,  the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. A funerary text whose lessons form a pathway to guide souls through death to rebirth, it teaches of a state of Nirvana, between life and death, an intermediary realm of essential wisdom, terrors, traps; the potential to ascend to bliss or fall into torment…

…Having been premiered at Renaissance Live in London in the summer of 2022, “Hex” whet the appetite for the album and doesn’t disappoint in studio form. A classic example of Tribal Thrash Metal, it combines the elements really well with a couple of fierce and slick solos adding bite. The tempo is high from the start although a couple of clean vocal moments from Morozov bring David Draiman from Disturbed and Device to mind, which could have a Marmite effect depending on your feelings for that band. Driving down the darkness “Purity” settles into the Ethnic vibes with a sense of chaotic fun, a little bit of a taste of Arabian Nights at breakneck pace in the extended passages of instrumentation lights the blue touch paper before things settle down for the stomp riffs of “True Believer“. Morozov’s vocals are caustic for the majority of this one, a demonic throat shredding performance that is both unexpected and impressive given the earlier moments. What Concrete Age have done really well is integrate the ethnic elements; they’re far more than simply the icing on the cake, instead fully integrated in the way that Symphonic Metal acts do with their sound; there is no drop off in energy to allow for them either, it’s hell for leather or burn with no in between for this record. But the key is the Metal spine and the technical rhythms and flamboyance of cuts like “Threads of Fate” are electrifying to the point of stirring the senses, distinctively different and yet still very much the Metal we know and love. Inspiration comes in many forms and “Trite Puti” (Bulgarian for “The Three Paths“) is actually a Metalized rendition of a Bulgarian folk song, a vibrant instrumental that could easily be the work of bands like Accursed Years or Korpiklaani. It’s simply spellbinding.

The fretboard smoking solo and breakneck pace of “Lullaby for a Deadman” takes what Concreate Age have done to this point in the album and turns everything up a couple of notches, quite literally throwing kerosene on an already raging inferno. The “Back To The Primitive” era Soulfly ethnic moment is another of good clean fun before the final fiery onslaught, a well timed palette cleansing moment that doesn’t linger too long or outstay its welcome. As you might have anticipated, the album title track is an absolute barnstormer. Intertwining solos in Trivium style light the way as the band find fresh and inventive ways to utilise the ethnic instruments while having plenty of pit starting bounce in the riff department before “Ridges of Suffering” hits like a battering ram. Another full throttle onslaught, it has that instant head bang appeal while Morozov continues to prove himself a storyteller of the finest order. On the subject of which, “Thunderland” finds the band changing their approach and creating a piece of arena filling anthemic chorus driven Metal with something of a more stripped back and straightforward approach. It sounds like it was designed for the bigger stages as a big single and lacks some of the killer instinct of the rest of the album but in some ways that isn’t a bad thing as it sets up the grand finale that is “Bezdna Ot Ludost” (Bulgarian for “Abyss Of Madness“) perfectly. Another flamboyant and fun affair with vibrant technical riffage a plenty that flies through at an incredible pace, its a masterpiece of an instrumental that slaps you in the face like a wet salmon on a cold winters day [8.5/10]

Track Listing

1. Hex
2. Purity
3. True Believer
4. Threads of Fate
5. Trite Puti (Instrumental)
6. Lullaby for a Deadman
7. Bardo Thodol
8. Ridges of Suffering
9. Thunderland
10. Bezdna Ot Ludost (Instrumental)

Bardo Thodol” by Concrete Age is out 6th January 2023

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *