It's not a surprise that the debut full-length from New Jersey outfit Toothgrinder is suffused with violence. The chaotic, polyrhythmic post-hardcore that they introduced on their Schizophrenic Jubilee EP is present in all its bloody, mind-flaying glory here; what's new is not the aggression, nor the visceral intensity, but how wonderfully it is configured and applied.
The tone of Nocturnal Masquerade is surprisingly dark and gothic for something so technical, more black velvet than bloody knuckles and more Castle of Otranto than mosh pit. There is something carnivalesque about the churning guitars and frequent tempo changes, something somnambulant about how the moments of melody and atonality collide. This dreamlike quality is further enhanced by the way desires and ideas collide and twist together here, from the almost sexual urgency of "Lace & Anchor" to the combination of wallowing greed and emotional betrayal in "Diamonds for Gold."
If you're simply looking for a gutsy, muscular piece of well written post-hardcore, you won't be disappointed, but there is so much more here for someone who wants to dig in more deeply. There's so much nightmare to explore. (Spinefarm)