Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Toothgrinder - Nocturnal Masquerade (2016)

Fans of more modern acts like that of Killswitch Engage, The Dillinger Escape Plan, early Mastodon and Slipknot will find something here in Toothgrinder, which seems to put several of those bands in a blender and regurgitate out absurdly thick grooves, harsh vocal bites and an embrace of slight technical experimentation. These New Jersey natives actually consider themselves progressive metal, but it's quite clear that we're not talking about Fate's Warning or Dream Theater with such a nuanced and sludgy sound as I'm hearing here. It's not that what they play is “sludge” but it just feels very dirty. There are some clean cuts here like the ballad “I Lie In Rain” which could end up on the radio, but you're being mainly pummeled with technicality and djent influence on pieces like “The House (That Fear Built)” and “Blue.” Even some guitar solos appear on a record of this nature, which you wouldn't expect for a disc of it's type. I know that a lot of people will hear this disc and feel that the band aren't really covering anything new, but when I hear it, I sense some promise in the fact that perhaps a band of this type can actually transcend well beyond their peers. I feel though, that I would love to hear more of that progressive sense and not quite so much brawn for the sake of brawn. It's true that I expect metal to be heavy, but I feel that there's almost two mediums here – a fist to the face, or a radio rock sound with heavy moments, ala Five Finger Death Punch. I will say that I would much rather listen to a record like this over that of FFDP, but I can't really see too many extreme metalheads getting into it, honestly. Nevertheless, I feel that the disc is a step in the right direction, at least for the most part. Nocturnal Masquerade is chunky, dirty and sometimes even pretty damn catchy. It's the perfect recipe for accessibility, which I'd rather have covered in New Noise instead of a smaller format like here. But with a band as commercially viable as this one, there's no doubt in my mind that they're getting plenty of recognition for this performance. While it does have that “bro” vibe, there's enough staying power here to warrant several listens. It just depends on your tastes, and if you can deal with each song being relatively bite-sized. Toothgrinder have promise, but they could be so much more.

(12 Tracks, 43:00)


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