Last heard giving us Fumes in 2017 it seems that with new album Ecstasy Of Emptiness one man industrial outfit Concrete Lung have given us the whole gas pipe to suck on. Ed Oxime the man behind it obviously likes to experiment and in doing things has kept things quite varied on this album going through the very origins of industrial music yet bringing it bang up to date with an incredibly modern sounding and voracious production which at times feels like it is going to eat you up whole. This is harsh music make no mistake, there are no quarters given here from the opening gambit of ‘Asphalt God’ a bitter and corrosive onslaught of pure noise and squalled distorted vocals that really leaves you feeling like you have been dragged across concrete. There are a couple of equally unpleasant soundscapes to encounter among these tracks breaking up the more linear ‘songs’ that we encounter, all of them equally embittered and uncomfortable listening experiences.
The first of these ‘A Violent Stimulator’ clanks the pipes in a way that go back to the origin of the species and bands such as Throbbing Gristle, SPK and Test Department. A warped groove and vocals screaming out words such as “Control” are equally as in your face as the demented abandoned bathroom clangs and it all leaves you feeling in need of a good wash as it is grimy and pretty much malevolent in execution. This is a sound that has travelled from Manchester to Australia but it has little sunshine behind it and is cold, dank, grey and bristling in unfettered violence. A vein is drilled next and spews up shit from a sewer, well that’s what ‘Medicated’ sounds like, another short interlude designed to set your teeth and soul on edge. Thankfully ‘Dream Distortion’ is a slightly more palatable nightmare with its tribal thump and clattering percussion which reminds a fair bit of another British expatriate currently residing Down Under, Leech Woman. Hmm perhaps they should join forces but Christ knows if we would be able to survive what they mangle together. I’m not sure it could be anything more twisted than ‘Voices In The Ice’ though which is a doom laden and bleak sounding descent into musical genocide, a slow lumbering unstoppable beast with haranguing vocals delivering nihilistic dystopian poetry every step of the stalking way.
Up to this point you might be thinking, “ah it’s all quite manageable really, what is he on about?” Nothing however will prepare you for the 6-minute industrial noise loop of ‘Self Portrait In A Vacant Room.’ It does exactly what it suggests, the room maybe empty of humanity but certainly not machinery and it sounds like it is a about to explode along with your head. Stick that in a bass bin for the full scanners effect although many may wish to hit the skip button and prefer this to be the album’s closing statement. It’s not though so suffering and pain are inevitable. Thankfully ‘Saline River (Damage)’ is far more palatable, changing direction again into Carpenteresque synth / dark wave territory, which by comparison is quite soothing and dare I say it even nice and comfortable albeit gloomy listening. It’s left to the title track to leave you gazing into the void whilst it gazes back at you contemplating your soul and your painful existence. Bleak music for dire times and pure industrial art if you fancy wallowing in emptiness you are definitely in the right place here.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)