For the longest time, I was completely unsure if I liked or hated Toothgrinder’s last album “Nocturnal Masquerade.” There were elements I liked, and others that I didn’t. The band were heavy and yes fairly technical. This certainly gave them the tag as being progressive metal. I wasn’t always sure how accurate that description was. And now they have released the follow up “Phantom Amour” which does not clarify my confusion.
In fact, “Phantom Amour” is even more all over the place than the last album. The band has added a mellower side akin to Deftones which even includes a bit of a funkier side at times. Normally, I am all for a band to explore. The problem is that Toothgrinder sound more like they are looking for a sound that works rather than expanding on one that they already have.
The album has a lot of catchy songs like “HVY” and “Let it Ride” but when they go for a catchier sound, they seem to lose any depth. Worse still, the title track harkens back to 90s rap metal. Hey, if you like that shit, go for it. It sounds silly as fuck and often the lyrics on the album get a little simplistic. That is a bit odd since the band was influenced by Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Honestly, some tracks could have used more writing time.
On the plus side, songs like “Jubilee,” “Paris,” and “Snow” have a LOT of depth to them. So there is a lot of potential with Toothgrinder and THAT is why I keep trying their last album and this album. When they get it right, they really get it right. The problem is that it can be a fleeting moment within a song or a full track here and there.
Maybe when Toothgrinder find a foundation to their sound, they can build on that. For now, they seem to be building separate pieces to a sound and not quite figuring the best way to join them together. “Phantom Amour” has good moments that are worth listening to, provided the listener can follow the band’s whims. For now, I’ll give this young band the benefit of the doubt and see what they do next.
- The Shadow
- Let It Ride
- Phantom Amour
- Facing East From a Western Shor
Label: Spinefarm Records
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