Review / Concrete Donkey – Without Resolution

The music of Exeter’s Concrete Donkey is weighty and complex, with searching guitar lines dancing over rich basslines. Latest release Without Resolution is very much in the vein of Faith No More or Tool but with a soft, warm glow behind it. With bounce and flair, they present quite a lot of ’90s metal influence but focus on dense psych riffs and a lazy, open groove.

Throughout the record, the tracks tend to wallow in a thick sludge, and when new ideas arise they tend towards creating warmth; the vocals gradually build up until they’re more layered, and the guitar lines are deft and tend to end passages by ringing out. The bass has a particularly full presence and the drums tend towards cascading tom fills, particular attention being paid to a natural, roomy kit sound that works just as well for the active double-bass sections as it does for their slower material.

When these new ideas come along they tend to be introduced gradually, building up and falling away. A good example is the guitar solo on the longer ‘Emergency Ninth’, which stretches along the latter half of the song, building and snaking around the rest of the instruments. Elsewhere, the band are a little more brazen with vocal harmonies later in the record, leaning towards long looks on ‘Alight Here’.

The record has a modern feel, a little less energetic and hot-blooded than some of the aggro stuff from the ’90s which its influences rubbed shoulders against, and very much a summery, washed-out record, whilst still being weighty and detailed. The overall effect is very much in the vein of their influences but with a polished sheen; this is their most mature-sounding release yet, and repeat listens find plenty of standout moments, a particularly good example being the frantic vocal/ guitar playoff in ‘Contrauma’.

Without Resolution‘s key strength is the balance of detail and drama, with an eye for surprising, thoughtful moments. Returning listeners curious to see if they could top previous EP Ramifications can rest easy that that, at least, has been resolved.

Without Resolution is out now can be ordered here.

Words: Tom Coles