There’s been a palpable buzz around the release of Toothgrinder’s first full-length, ever since their Schizophrenic Jubilee EP was released in 2014, and especially after “The House (That Fear Built)” was released to tease the album. And the album’s ferocity does not disappoint. They are an onslaught, yet one that maintains a grand array of instrumental variety, such as on the aforementioned first track. It’s nice to hear a band experimenting without delving into navel gazing.
What keeps people’s interest aflame about Toothgrinder are its vocals and musical range. Justin Mathews’ vocal style is magnificent, at once capable of ferocious roaring and occasional delving into guttural murmuring, at once channeling Greg Puciato and Mike Patton. And the music is just as intense. When this band’s riffs are good, they are incredible. Just take “Blue” or “Hour Angle” for instance. This is a band that knows exactly how to employ their brand of vicious devastation.
At the same time, for a band that’s named “Toothgrinder,” they certainly have an odd proclivity for melodic vocals, one that at once feels out of tune with the style of music that they play. Perhaps it’s the band’s admiration for other acts such as Thursday and Saves The Day, and for previous fans of that kind of genre, this music is fine, simply go forth and purchase. But for death metal or hardcore enthusiasts, I can foresee aligning one’s self with the melodic singing on this album to be a problem. It’s also slightly frustrating when the band is surely capable of adding heat to such vocals, as displayed in the delivery “Save yourself!” sung over and over in “Schizophrenic Jubilee,” the second recordings’ last song.
My problem with clean singing aside, this is a monster of an album made by a group who’ve put in years of hard work and time, while remaining patient as they finished crafting an otherwise impeccable album.
01. The House (That Fear Built)
02. Lace & Anchor
03. Coueur d’Alene
04. I Lie in Rain
06. The Hour Angle
07. Dance of Damsels
08. Diamonds for Gold
09. Nocturnal Masquerade
11. Schizophrenic Jubilee
12. Waltz of Madmen
Run Time: 42:00
Release Date: January 29, 2016
Check out the song “Blue” here.