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ALBUM REVIEW: Phantom Amour – Toothgrinder

TOOTHGRINDER propelled themselves into everyone’s field of vision in 2015 with their most recent release Nocturnal Masquerade but with a new album on the horizon in the shape of Phantom Amour, which is out for release today via Spinefarm Records, will the quintet be able to achieve the same result?

Opening track HVY commences with a very sludgy bass riff before descending into dreamy atmospheric electronica which is quite an unexpected turn of events compared to the lunacy encountered on Nocturnal Masquerade. It exudes a very calming and relaxed state, especially alongside Justin Matthews’ soothing vocals complimenting the arrangement. There is still room for some short bursts of intricate technicality but the track would not be out of place on mainstream radio whereas The Shadow harbours are more energetic approach with catchy stoner ridden guitar vibes as Justin’s gears up the aggression with some seamless switching been searing screams and floating melody. Despite packing more punch than its predecessor it is however still particularly composed which is certainly not a drawback. Let It Ride continues the prominence of the bass rhythms interwoven between swift vocal prose providing a very immersive experience. Throw some quirky keyboard/synth solo’s into the mix and you’ve got yourself one of the biggest examples of just how diverse TOOTHGRINDER have become as a band.

Title track Phantom Amour bursts into life with slick but grungy tones proceeding at a leisurely pace sliding in and out of serene patches which ooze the restful but emotively engrossing qualities made famous by bands such as TESSERACT and THE CONTORTIONIST whilst Red provides a bit more of a frantic tempo with upbeat riffing coated in chilling, eerie undertones culminating in a very dark vibe. Justin executes the ability to make his voice float like leaves in the wind before cutting like razors to absolute perfection whilst giving guitarists Jason Goss and Johnuel Hasney the opportunity to let loose with some mind bending solo work. Adenium possesses similar experimental electronic tinkering to its counterparts with a huge evocative chorus, utterly savage screams and a steady but powerful beat.

Jubilee slows the pace down momentarily with acoustic guitar work guaranteed to tug on your heart strings surrounded by prominent vocals which feel like they are encapsulating you with their ghostly echo and the addition of a banjo further enhances the serene vibe projected throughout and Paris extends the acoustic contributions but this time with a more solemn reflective sentiment. As the song progresses further examples showcase Justin’s vocal capacity flicking the switch between brute force and captivating tones at a moments notice like the ultimate trump card. Pieta fires into the spotlight like a runaway juggernaut with heightened intensity and jabbing riffs treading territory more familiar to TOOTHGRINDER‘s previous workings in a truly “Where did that come from?!” moment. Crazy riffing is thrown into the composition alongside a solo/supporting riff combination capable of instantly giving you chills right down your spine.

Snow takes a calmer, more restrained approach with beautifully overlayed vocal arrangements which are soft and inviting providing a stark contrast to the chaos that preceded before Vagabond commences with yet another seismic tremor inducing riff accompanied with a resentful karmic stance including the lyrics ‘You know I want you dead’ and “What goes around comes around”. Justin’s shrieks are laced in pure venom and would give Keith Buckley a run for his money. Futile provides some further electronic accompaniments to supplement the distorted bluesy riffs, chunky bass riffs and rapid fire vocal delivery with an almost rapping style procession. Final track Facing East From A Western Shore shows no sign of weariness or winding down with invigorating bouts of pace injected, intricately layered riff work resulting in the ideal climax to a simply stunning album.

TOOTHGRINDER have found success where so many bands have failed by shedding their skin and evolving into an entirely different entity without completely alienating their existing fan base and maintaining the high levels of energy presented in their previous efforts. Phantom Amour harbours an abundance of reasons why they deserve to be solidified as one of the true visionaries of their generation, laughing in the face of restrictions and limitations by pushing themselves to create a diverse and intriguing offering which will certainly be a talking point when it comes to everyone’s looming ‘Album Of The Year’ lists.

Rating: 9/10

Phantom Amour - Toothgrinder

Phantom Amour is out now via Spinefarm Records.

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