Review Summary: See title.
If The Sawtooth Grin were known for anything, it was how tightly they traversed the boundary between listenable, albeit cacophonic grind and dear-God-make-it-stop, nails-on-chalkboard brutality. Shrill vocals paraded in front of a barely decipherable wall of static-laden guitars, concocting a brand of grind music that had a distinct devil-may-care attitude to it. Past their initial breakup and over a decade of relative inactivity to 2022—a sizable divide of nearly twenty years since any previous works hit the scene—and nothing has drastically changed about the project’s base premise; they still liberally tease cohesiveness while frantically performing instrumental acrobatics to generate a dizzying, suffocating experience. It’s the ideal marriage of grind’s impossible pacing and mathcore’s predilection for abrasive, serpentine guitars. Although the lineup has changed over the period of the band’s absence, sophomore album Good
is an aptly-named reunion due to being, well, quite good indeed, and also bridging the gap between the group’s beginning and their modern incarnation. This feels both as a logical next step for the collective and a robust reaffirmation of their prior glory.
To those new to the fold, expect mathiness, general insanity, a need to search for earplugs (in an oddly positive way!) and very technical musicianship. To those returning, the greatest plus and minus for The Sawtooth Grin is their newfound clarity in terms of production; while still vicious, Good
is not nearly as chaotically incoherent as Cuddlemonster
. This can also be owed to the melodic edge applied to the record, allowing songs to become distinguishable and to feature their own individual highpoints. All that makes The Sawtooth Grin click is on display in “Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel,” with a central guitar riff navigating the song through its outbursts of shrieking vocals and blistering intensity. DJ Scully’s bass—a massively entertaining performance throughout the record—dances in the forefront of the mix, blending into the pulverizing lead or overtaking it to strut its own brand of bedlam, flaunting its jangling tone as the track twists and turns at breakneck speeds. Check into “The Shining Wire” for another delicious inclusion of melodic tones, incorporating several dynamic shifts between heaviness and calm that are held together by the slimmest of strings. It could all come tumbling down if a chord is one nanosecond off time—and that’s just the beauty of it.
There’s a variance on display during Good
that acts to elevate it beyond what The Sawtooth Grin accomplish in their original iteration. The general songwriting chops of the band are demonstrably improved, ranging from the perfected transitions—the way “Bedtime” collapse into its bass-boosted breakdown is magnificent to behold—to the progression of “Afterlife Kids,” what with its clean break and playful vocals building up momentum for a frantic climax. Despite its brief duration, every track included on Good
explores a considerable amount of ground, racing through bouncing rhythms, melodic pinnacles, and a percussion kit that sounds as if it were piloted by an octopus. Rich Lombardi’s manic voice remains omnipresent, showing no signs of wear as it contorts inside the unpredictable innards of the record. The entire package perfectly fits inside a release cycle that has featured some of the strongest grindcore in a hot minute, with multiple groups demonstrating a technical ability and knack for memorability not often observed. It’s all the more impressive that The Sawtooth Grin are capable of being in such a conversation while being inactive for a long stretch of time. The 23-minute ride ofGood
is an ideal shot of adrenaline to the senses and worthy of being in grind’s upper echelon in this excellent calendar year.