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Concrete Sox > Sewerside > Reviews
Concrete Sox - Sewerside

Peace Keeping Force - 75%

Vaseline1980, September 18th, 2023
Written based on this version: 1989, 12" vinyl, Big Kiss

Concrete Sox was a product from the fertile mid to late 80's UK crust/hardcore underground that also gave us acts like Ripcord, Extreme Noise Terror, Sacrilege, and probably most famously Napalm Death. Soundwise, the band was situated bang in the middle of hardcore punk and a primitive form of thrash metal, which earned them a modest following, mostly among fans of the noisier punk styles like crossover and crust punk.

"Sewerside" picks up where its predecessor "Whoops Sorry Vicar" left off. You could compare Concrete Sox best with the earlier works of The Accüsed and D.R.I. from around the time of "Dealing with It". Combining fast and abrasive hardcore punk with a more metal infused style of guitar playing like Venom, Tank or Motörhead, the band keeps it fast and uptempo for most of the time. The bulk of their material is fueled by US hardcore bands like Septic Death, M.D.C., Crucifix and early Agnostic Front, with the drums and bass keeping it mostly straight forward, but in the guitar playing there is definitely a serious thrash/speed metal influence present. Through all the hardcore thrash fury, there are riffs and leads popping up that would not sound out of place on the first Megadeth, Bulldozer or Exciter albums, be it somewhat rougher around the edges. And talking about rough around the edges: that's where the vocals come in. I can imagine that the more discriminating ear could perhaps have a problem with this rather raw-throated punk bark, yet at the same time it fits the rough and gritty music perfectly. After all, like a lot of British punk and thrash bands, Concrete Sox's music sounds more coarse and less streamlined than that of their US contemporaries.

And more coarse and less streamlined also describes the production on this album best. It's as raw as fresh rug burn on the knees, is devoid of shine and gloss, and sounds unbalanced at times. In the faster parts, the percussion pushes the guitars to the background, which at the same time also gives it that kinda manic UK hardcore feel a band like this thrives in. After all, this is underground punk/thrash/hardcore stuff, bright and shiny production values were pretty much frowned upon, 'cuz that's what W.A.S.P. and Ratt did, and being a UK crust punk, that's not what you want to be associated with, right?

This is a raw and abrasive crossover album with a very British edge to it, I can almost smell the stale cider emanating from it. I can certainly appreciate the aggression and punkish hardcore power present here, but at the same time have to conclude that not all the tracks present are on the same level. The song "A Woman's Work" has a really naff guest vocalist who gets on my nerves, and the Venom parody "At Tea with Satan" is something that brings the energy level down way too much for the album's good. It also has to be said that when the band does go full pelt, they unleash hell alright. You simply can't beat that kind of unhinged punk/thrash energy.

This is one that's very well suited for those who have sworn the oath to the more primitive and gnarlier thrash and/or crossover bands of the 80's. Those into acts such as Slaughter (CAN), Ardkore, early Virus (UK), Possessed, Hellhammer, early Minotaur and Bathory will have an ear for this, I'm sure, but fans of Anti-Cimex, Infest (US), Negative Gain, Siege, Varukers and the like won't pull up their noses for it, either.