I actually stumbled across this band by a fortuitous mistake; there’s another band called Teethgrinder, with an excellent album called ‘Misanthropy‘, and when I saw Toothgrinder’s album on the rack for HMV and didn’t recognise the cover (and as it had been a while since I listened to ‘Misanthropy’ and the band name was a bit hazy), I mistook it for a new Teethgrinder album. Instead, I’d gotten Toothgrinder’s first full-length effort ‘Nocturnal Masquerade‘. It’s rare to be so glad about a mistake (which isn’t to say I don’t want another Teethgrinder album, mind), but god damn.
Toothgrinder are a real breath of fresh air. Catchy-as-hell, fist-pumping mayhem. In a very good way, it reminds me of the first Slipknot album; it’s aggressive and furious, yet the songs are easily distinguishable, melodic, and great to sing along to. They’re nominally a ‘progressive metal’ band, but it’s a bit of a useless term here; they’re progressive in the same way that Periphery are on songs like ‘Alpha‘ (i.e. they play around with song structure a bit more than Disturbed do—but don’t expect any tracks hitting the 10 minute mark). Interestingly, Periphery’s vocalist does actually provide vocals on one of the tracks. Opening like a bull out of a gate, ‘The House (That Fear Built)‘ charges around leaving no china vase unsmashed, provoking the immediate feeling of ‘Isn’t this amazing? Why aren’t more metal bands making songs like this?’. What’s great is that they don’t take long to move on to softer songs, what usually takes about 8 tracks on a metal abum that features melodic vocals (that, or it’s the last track), four tracks in and ‘I Lie In Rain‘ has slowed the pace to almost what would be the ‘apparently we have to have one’ acoustic track (although it’s softer in the same way that ‘Would You Still Be There‘ was in the context of ‘Restoring Force’ by Of Mice and Men), except Toothgrinder give the impression that acoustic guitars are only good for pummeling into splinters for a make-shift supply of plectrums. The album feels like everything was done on their terms, and I am very OK with that, because it’s what makes the album so fucking excellent. The dynamics are all over the place, but not in a frenetic way, and in that respect they earn the ‘progressive’ label; the album frequently changes tone, but you never feel lost. It’s not a iwrestledabearonce conondrum where you’re suddenly wondering how you went from ear-splitting frenzy to choral electronica. Another trend they buck is that the melodic vocals aren’t sung by someone who can reach notes higher than a prepubescent choir boy; more Corey Taylor (of Slipknot and Stone Sour) than Ashe O’Hara (of the best Tesseract album, ‘Altered State’).
There are very few bands that I will unquestionably go out and buy their new album without first listening to; Swallow The Sun, Akercocke, Tool, Anathema, A Perfect Circle, Karnivool, ISIS. I will definitely be snapping up whatever they release next, so, please Toothgrinder: