Concrete Mascara – Perennial Disappointment CD Malignant Records 2016
Excluding splits, cassettes, live recordings and album length ep’s, ‘Perennial Disappointment’ is Concrete Mascara’s latest and second ‘official’ full length album and with being released on Malignant Records will do doubt increase awareness of this leading American power electronics project. Given in recent years there has been a recognizable American power electronics/ death industrial sound (…spearheaded by a broader collective of projects), Concrete Mascara have sharply deviated from this template and forged their own (and by now) distinctive sound. Although the sound and style of ‘Perennial Disappointment’ does not drastically differ from the sound the project have previously explored, but at the same time there is a degree of refinement in compositional approach as well as a step up in sonic aggression and harshness. To speak of such harshness, this comes down to the final mastering, which has made the album loud, crisp and rather unrelenting across its 40 odd minute span.
The short introductory piece ‘Flesh of This World’ (…based around ominous drones and dialogue sample referencing human technology in context of unexplained phenomenon), lulls the listener into a false sense of security before launching into ‘Area Trinity’, – an overdriven and barely structured static maelstrom and distortion roared vocals. ‘Delusion of Sacrifice’ then features as one of the more structured pieces, which is based on a centrally prominent ‘machine gun’ beat, and with other rhythmic elements being semi-buried under mid-toned squall (…again with the vocals presented in an anguished delivery but processed to the point of indecipherability). Mid album track ‘Mouth Of Flies, Tounge of Maggots’ provides some respite from the unrelenting harshness, being a divergent highlight, given it is a mid-paced rhythmic offering which has pared back on the noise squall (…and interestingly plays out like a modern homage to Genocide Organ’s track ‘At Judas’). Following this is the final third of the album, where the remaining three tracks retain absolute intensity both in terms of sonics and delivery, where various combinations of spitting static, electrics shards, semi-buried but all out aggressive vocals are the order of proceedings.
Without doubt this is a great album in terms of Concrete Mascara’s discography. Yet at the same time it is noted that the mastering/ production of the album has pushed the sound to an overblown point where it has reduced sonic depth and general tonal separation. Clearly there is substantial layering of structural elements, synth lines and other sonic detailing underpinning each track, but many of these elements are effectively buried due to the production which is harsh, overblown and brutally loud. Although this is perhaps a minor gripe it is gripe all the same, given to this ear it slightly hampers what is otherwise a extremely strong and intense listen. Punishing indeed.