When nothing is off limits, you can reach your full potential.
Toothgrinder realized this fact while making their 2017 full-length, Phantom Amour [on Spinefarm Records].
While retaining the slippery schizophrenic spirit that turned them into a critical favorite on 2015’s Nocturnal Masquerade, the New Jersey quintet—Justin Matthews [vocals], Jason Goss [guitar], Matt Arensdorf [bass, vocals], Wills Weller [drums], and Johnuel Hasney [guitar]—dramatically augmented their unpredictable creative palette through expanding the grasp on melody, incorporating cinematic electronic flourishes, and even going acoustic, to name a few evolutions.
As hypnotic as they are heavy, these thirteen tracks signify “progress” through and through.“Everybody calls us ‘a progressive metal band,’ but I think the most progressive thing you can do is surprise your audience and keep yourself happy,” says Wills. “I feel like that’s exactly what we’re doing here. From jazz and classic rock to metal and experimental, everybody brings different flavors to the table. Then, we pour them into the same pot. That’s Toothgrinder in a nutshell.”
It’s also why the band quietly made a palpable impact with Nocturnal Masquerade. As Revolver dubbed them “A Band to Watch”. The single “Diamonds for Gold” [feat. Spencer Sotelo of Periphery] generated over 300K YouTube/VEVO views and the follow-up,“Blue” cracked 385K Spotify streams. The group went on to support Killswitch Engage, Periphery, and more on the road. Wills even made a hilarious cameo in the Martin Scorsese-produced HBO series Vinyl, tearing shit up with an oceanside show as frontman for the fictional band, Pink Fairies.
As the boys commenced writing in 2017, new inspirations crept in…“As a lyricist, I decided to take a more melodic route”, explains Justin, “I wanted to be more honest and tell stories. I had to talk about personal things that are difficult to communicate with such an aggressive platform. We took it down a notch and got more intimate. A lot of the things I sing about are sad—not so much angry. We needed to soften the sound just enough for it to work. I think it did”.
The first radio single,“Let It Ride” hinges on a fat, distorted groove before snapping into one of the band’s biggest chants to date, “We’re gonna let it ride…”
In the end, Phantom Amour signals a moment of progression for both Toothgrinder and the genre at large. “When people listen to this, I want them to feel what I felt picking up a really emotionally heavy album,” Justin leaves off. “That feeling lasts.”…“I hope this pushes some boundaries,” concludes Wills. “It’s a breath of fresh air for fans that love the heavy s**t and something aggressive for fans of lighter music. It’s the best of both worlds.”