Over the last few years the stigma of mental health might not have completely lifted but seems to be becoming looser. It’s now encouraged to talk and as someone who has had a fair amount of issues with their own mental health over the years it’s fascinating for this writer when artists and musicians are so willing to share their own experiences. With that in mind it is a perfect time for Unrelaxed 2, the latest solo album from Edinburgh’s punk and metal mainstay Tommy Concrete. Throughout the album Tommy openly discusses his own experiences with mental health and autism. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes enlightening, there isn’t a second of the album that doesn’t feel completely genuine.
Never has an album been so accurately titled. Having listened to Unrelaxed 2 multiple times it still you are left with the feeling that you’re barely scratching the surface of the depths of this album. With eight tracks and a shade over an hour Unrelaxed 2 bounces from idea to idea, refusing to stand still for a second. A track like ‘Tear Yourself Free’ is a great example; starting life as an emotional ballad, with Tommy’s rich baritone carrying the song, it then kicks in with a crushing, disjointed guitar riff and finishes with blast beats. All of this within the space of ten minutes. The musicianship on display is stunning with monumental riffs and vocal lines filling the album. That being said you can clearly tell that Tommy has agonised over every note and line in the album until he got what he was after.
I personally believe that along with Caina’s album Gentle Illness released last year, Unrelaxed 2 is an important and vital work of art for its unflinching look at mental health and will be high up on this writers list of best albums of 2020.
Unrelaxed 2 is available now via Trepanation Recordings and can be purchased here.
Words: Nathan Tyler