Toothgrinder come barrelling out the gate with their latest album, I AM, setting the tone from the off for an explosive and tenacious follow-up to their second album Phantom Armour from just two years ago. With the acclaim of this prior record, the bar was already set high for what should come next from the New Jersey quintet. I AM quickly puts thoughts of ‘where do they go from here’ to rest with its punchy, unrelenting energy that ebbs and flows faultlessly through the piece, track by track, never ceasing its hold on the listener’s attention for even a second. Nor does it grow repetitive, constantly twisting and changing with the deftly experimental flair that Toothgrinder fans have already come to know well, and for those that don’t know… well, they’re going to learn real fast.
I AM perfectly demonstrates Toothgrinder’s versatility as a band by exhibiting a boundless range of influences and flavours to tickle any person’s ear and further expands their audience, yet it does not go so far as to feel overcrowded. The album has a great mix of sounds that all bounce off each other in a very complimentary fashion whilst also remaining contrasting enough to keep things interesting. There’s definitely something for everyone here and Toothgrinder makes sure that there’s plenty to go round. Rather cunningly, Toothgrinder continually subvert expectations, by leading you one way and going another, lulling the audience into a slow song and then unleashing a crushing riff to destroy your false sense of security, for instance. Lead vocalist Justin Matthews should also be commended for his impressive spectrum spanning from gorgeous clean vocals to sharp gutterals that allow the band to bridge across styles seamlessly.
Overall, Toothgrinder’s latest venture is an immensely enjoyable experience that like any good story leaves you wanting more. It becomes more apparent the deeper you delve just how much fun Toothgrinder must have had putting this album together, leaving a lasting impression in their work that is testament to their aptitude as storytellers and musicians alike. Its title track sits quite tantalisingly right at the very end of the album and serves well to provide a solid, satisfying conclusion that brings everything full circle. Even so, one can’t help but wish it would go on a little longer, and so we are left eagerly anticipating what Toothgrinder might come up with next.