Toothgrinder – Nocturnal Masquerade

Toothgrinder
Nocturnal Masquerade
Progressive Metal
Released 26 January 2016
via Spinefarm Records

The American prog-metallers hit us with their newest offering Nocturnal Masquerade and I’ll say this before anything else: this is one amazing record.  Never before have I listened to such brutality-meets-musical-brilliance like I have with this album.  At first it was a little jarring and I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but I kept listening on and I really got into it once I knew where it was going.  

The album has a very mixed range of styles, as you would full well expect on a prog-metal album.  The opening track “The House (That Fear Built)”, like an overture, sets the mood pretty well for what is to come and the power and intensity is displayed throughout the whole album. The intricate guitar work makes for some great riffs and well crafted melodies. The broken riff patterns are great and coupled with the excellent drum work from Wills Weller; it creates a dynamic and powerful listening experience. The songs just have that hardcore and intense feel to them which is fun to listen to, being a fan of hardcore myself, at the same time the wonderful melodies just grab hold of you and the passion in Justin Matthews and Matt Arensdorff’s vocals just shine through so well.  To be honest, it’s hard to believe that there are only 4 members, there’s just so much going on.

For the more heavy of the performances on this album, Toothgrinder just really came together and created some spectacular tunes like “Blue” and “Coeur d’Alanse” which have this really relentless approach to them and I was left hooked. It really is difficult to fully grasp how interesting and diverse this album is, once you think you’ve got this band figure they go and add something into the song you just didn’t see coming.  Such as the odd quiet and unsettling moment before they kick straight back into gear, the anthemic clean vocals just cut off so suddenly by the rough guttural vocals.  This can be a little jarring and I did have a sense of tonal whiplash at times and this could throw some people off them.  

Overall, I have really enjoyed rocking out to this record and it has so many aspects that I love.  The technical mastery of the band is great and the music is so tight that it will just grab your attention and won’t let go. Fantastic work!

4.5/5

Mick Birchall

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