TOOTHGRINDER
Phantom Amour


4.0
excellent

Review

by SitarHero CONTRIBUTOR (60 Reviews)
September 11th, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.

I feel like I am a bit of an anomaly in the way my music tastes have evolved over time. For some reason my taste began skewing heavier as I got older and I even went from someone who despised moshing to partaking in the occasional pit shenanigans when my back and knees are compliant. This is contrasted with the fact that most people I know went through the phases of their life where they listened to abrasive and heavy music much earlier in their lives—usually in high school and college—before mellowing out as they progressed through their twenties and into their thirties. This apparent “normal” progression also applies to musicians. It can be seen in the way that modern artists like Opeth, Devin Townsend, Mastodon, and Between the Buried and Me, and even more venerated ones like Metallica, Megadeth, and Soundgarden evolved over the course of their careers.

There is a great deal of logic to the evolution that these artists undergo. Rock and metal are largely defined by energy and aggression, and young artists come charging out of the gate fuelled by the energy and enthusiasm of youth before that gets gradually replaced by experience, patience and songcraft. This is particularly relevant to progressive metal where young musicians often find themselves trying to outdo each others’ virtuosity at the expense of musicality, before realising that they aren’t going to get paid by the note. Toothgrinder, as it turns out, might be ahead of the curve.

To be fair, it’s not like Toothgrinder have changed drastically from their debut LP, Nocturnal Masquerade, to this one. There’s still down-tuned riffing, melodic leads, and some chaotic hardcore screaming. The band has however, dialed back on the aggressive elements in their music and tightened and focused the melodic aspects. Toothgrinder is still very much a metal band, but they choose not to sound like one all the time.

Obviously this has left some long-term fans of the band unsatisfied, but to Toothgrinder’s credit they actually manage to gracefully pull off their evolution. Songs like “HVY”, “Pieta”, and "Facing East from a Western Shore", are suitably heavy, while songs like “Snow” and “Jubilee” are gorgeous and very un-metallic. The rest of the album finds the band balancing their metallic urges against their melodic ones, and succeeding more often than not. While the approach on Nocturnal Masquerade was overtly metallic with melodic elements used as counterweight, Phantom Amour reverses the script with the band focusing on melody and atmosphere while using heaviness and aggression as dynamic counterpoints.

There are a few missteps along the way, of course. The rapped verse on the title track isn’t as bad as it could have been, but it’s not exactly good either. Elsewhere, the band seems to favour mid-tempo grooves a little too much, and the lack of variation would have gotten old really fast if not for the melodic sections of the songs being so pleasant and engaging. This is not a perfect album by any stretch of the imagination, but it showcases the continued growth of Toothgrinder and finds them admirably honing their flair for songcraft and melody.



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user ratings (47)
Chart.
3.2
good
related reviews

Nocturnal Masquerade
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Toothgrinder Nocturnal Masquerade

Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2018


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm pretty surprised that this didn't have a review yet. Psyched to see these guys with Skyharbor next month!

JeetJeet
September 11th 2018


6884 Comments


Nice review. Pos'd. Just wish they continued with their sound from Nocturnal Masquerade and Jubilee. This pales in comparison to those 2 records imo.

Digging: Young Thug - So Much Fun

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2018


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's definitely different and I can see why it's not as enticing to you, but to me it's just as appealing

AaroN911
September 11th 2018


2549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I gave it another go recently and stick by my 3, it has moments but it's a rare listen myself. Hoping they improve rather with this sound or the previous.

Digging: Shadow of Intent - Melancholy

Divaman
September 11th 2018


3961 Comments


Not familiar with them, but nicely written.

Digging: Barrie - Happy To Be Here

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2018


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Diva!



The album took a while to grow on me to be honest, but there's a lot of pretty stuff going on even if the band doesn't riff as hard as they did before.

Comatorium.
September 12th 2018


4869 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This was such a disappointment, I loved nocturnal masquerade and this just fails to match it in any way.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
September 13th 2018


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's much prettier though. I mean, it's much less energetic and "heavy", but the melodic sections are a huge step up from Masquerade.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
October 9th 2018


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Band slays live.

AaroN911
October 10th 2018


2549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I have always wanted to see them live, I do hope the next album has a mix of this but with the heavier sound of the previous album.

SitarHero
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2019


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As good as the heavier sound was this album has been growing on me like crazy. The heavier tunes on this are just great rock songs with touches of metal but catch af.

Krpa
July 21st 2019


73 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Been listening to this occasionally since the release date, gotta say it's always a very pleasant listen. There's a dreamlike quality to the melodic sections while the heavy ones sound suitably raw. Hope they stick with a similar sound next time.



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