The last time we checked in with the guys from TOOTHGRINDER, it was the end of 2014. The group had just released an EP, their first since signing with Spinefarm Records. Since then, the band has moved from a quintet to a quartet, but more importantly, they are dropping their debut full length. And when I say dropping, I mean like the Hammer of Thor. When summing up the review of the Schizophrenic Jubilee EP, I pretty much ordered everyone who laid eyes upon the review to grab the disc and make sure they followed the group from the beginning; well, when Nocturnal Masquerade hits stores on January 29, you’ll understand exactly why I issued such a command.
For those who obeyed, the first thing you’ll notice is the growth that the group has made since their EP. The songs stand in a paradoxical state, showing a more concise motion, but managing to do so with a spastically brash delivery. It’s the definition of visceral. But that’s not to say there is a lack of melody; surprisingly the group has done a great deal of growing in their approach to writing hooks. While this is nowhere close to pop music, there are several anthemic sing alongs, sure to get lodged in your head.
Of the dozen tracks, three were brought over from the previously mentioned extended play. Of the new material, it’s damn near impossible to pick a clear favorite. Each song brings the pain. Lead track “The House (That Fear Built)” starts with a quick acoustic romp before jumping right into complete psychopathy until meeting a melodic refrain in the middle. “Lace & Anchor” is quite possibly the catchiest thing I’ve ever heard from a song that stays aggressive throughout its entire run, and sets up a perfect placement for “Coeur d’Alene”, “Blue” and “Dance of Damsels”.
The title track stands slightly opposed from some of the surrounding material, leading with a riff more attuned to djent groups, but oddly fitting as an anomalous standalone item. Where the group moved to new territory is in their approach on songs like “I Lie in Rain” and “Diamonds For Gold”, which feature quiet verse/loud chorus structures. Closing track, “Waltz of Madmen”, combines all elements of experimentation heard on the prior tracks, perfectly summing up the musical explosion that preceded it.
Bringing things to a close, I stand in the same exact spot I did a little over a year ago; with a new offering from TOOTHGRINDER, advising you of how much you need to spin this disc. Frankly, it should be no surprise. After all, if I were to do the same thing multiple times, expecting different results, it would be the definition of insanity, would it not? So, to save us all from possible admittance to the closest psych unit, how ’bout we just agree to grab a copy of Nocturnal Masquerade on January 29? Sound good?
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM