New Jersey Noise Machine Toothgrinder Pushes Boundaries with Phantom Amour Release!
These are times for changing. The world is set on its head and the boundaries for everything are moving. Likewise, changes are dramatic for bands like New Jersey’s Toothgrinder, with a new ground-breaking long player being recently released.
I reviewed their debut record (Nocturnal Masquerades) for Decibel Geek in 2016 and found it to be an amazingly diverse record, but one with an abrasiveness that could put off the more casual listener. I had heard, however, that this latest release would be quite a marked change when lead singer Justin Matthews was interviewed on The Metal Podcast. This album is definitely a marked changed from the debut and some!
Toothgrinder demonstrated an eye for amazingly complex, jagged metal compositions that were eye-wateringly brutal one moment and melodious the next. I listened with eyes wide shut to songs such as “I Lie in Rain“, “Blue” and “Schizophrenic Jubilee“. They were true Metalcore mavericks. Little did I know, but they were to completely blow a creative fuse on their 2018 follow up…
The band have shifted their soundscape from unrelenting Metalcore to a sweet fusion of heaviness and Brit Pop sensibility, laced with an infusion of bands such as Depeche Mode. This is a far more daring record than Suicide Silence‘s last album, as they still kept their signature song with more clean singing. However, you could see doors opening for Toothgrinder to move into a different direction.
So, is this record any good? Oh yeah, and some! This is one of my favorite albums of 2018 and it is primarily to do with their ability to write songs that emotionally stimulate and seize in equal measure. I haven’t been so excited about a band’s progression since…ever. They have moved in a direction that seems so natural and organic. They haven’t forgotten their roots, but have also been really brave to develop a record that stings with its sincerity.
From the off, “HVY” introduces the fabulously haunting vocals of Matthews, allied to a sharp production and density of sound, that is a real winner. The trademark growls are not wholly lost and the power is there – the song is a great bridge between the two records.
“Let It Ride” is the most accessible of the songs, giving a real surge of adrenaline with verses that sound a great deal like the UK’s Ride or The Charlatans. This is catchy!
Going through the album track-by-track wouldn’t do it justice. It is almost a concept album in its complexity and emotion. All I would say is, the acoustic “Jubilee” and the Kashmir-like “Phantom Amour” are standout tracks.
The record blows my mind. However, even after numerous listens, I still don’t fully absorb it and it does need repeated spins to fully appreciate the brutal beauty of this fearsome beast – make sure you grind your teeth and eat it up!