Released: 2016, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If you were perhaps expecting some “grind” from New Jersey's Toothgrinder, sad to say you're going to be disappointed. But that's about all that's missing from this eclectic/eccentric quartet's bag of tricks. Indeed with their debut full length, they prove themselves one of most unusual – for better or worse - and uncompromising bands in current hard rock/metal circles.
I don't really even know where to get started with Toothgrinder. Their music is a crazy-quilt mashup - with an emphasis on crazy - of hard rock, hardcore, stoner rock, post-rock/noise rock,traditional and modern metal, and a bit of this, that and the other. They will, at times, bring to mind the likes of Clutch, System of a Down, Mastodon, Alice In Chains, Mr. Bungle, Devin Townsend, Every Time I Die and even a hint of Meshuggah.
Nocturnal Masquerades is at once calamitous, captivating and utterly confounding. It sometimes seems like these guys have no any idea what in the hell they are actually doing, that perhaps they might just be freewheeling it to see what happens and end up with songs in the loosest sense, with little in the way of traditional structure. Verse-chorus-verse never stands a chance here.
What accessibility there is usually comes from the disarming clean vocals that are interjected with some regularity amid frontman Justin Matthews' otherwise tantrum-like bellow and some occasionally monumental choruses, as on “Schizophrenic Jubilee” or the propulsive “Lace & Anchor,” which, along with the ballady “I Lie In Rain” and the djent-and-rolly “Blue” at least border on conventionality.
While Toothgrinder's uncharacteristic modus operandi can create an element of tunelessness at times, there is something strangely compelling about this sonic freak show. You might want to turn away, but you can't.