Teethgrinder – Dystopia Review

Whether in the presence of a low or high grind tide, the quest for more persists. It’s no secret that quite a few of us in the office are sickos looking for a cheap, direct-to-vein thrill. Why just the other day our own El Cuervo was at the water cooler pining for the muddy-muzzled lashing of Ass to Mouth.1 And who could blame him? Their 2014 outing had a unique charm of blended political samples and rough-tongued tirades against the traditional pummel and pierce of high ethanol grind. Teethgrinder understands this hunger; in this unpredictable prediction-driven world, these grinding Dutchmen see nothing but a human race enamored by a delusional grandeur—a curated hell. Well, my internal algorithm may have led me to give Dystopia a fair shake, but will I find myself happily brooding with molar-on-molar angst?

Not quite. Par for the deathgrind soapbox on which Teethgrinder stands, the bare bones riffcraft on Dystopia shows shades of later Misery Index with the occasional chaotic metallic hardcore flair of Black Breath. In that sense, Dystopia follows steadfast in the echoes of Teethgrinder‘s own 2016 outing Nihilism, which, as it sounds, looked bleakly toward the future in the throes of feedback-drenched guitar wails and chunky, scattershot rhythms. Now that we’ve arrived 6 years down the road, Teethgrinder‘s paranoia for the frighteningly fixed experiences that we live through has only grown. Their ability to throw down a bass-heavy breakdown or a pinch-harmonic led ripper has grown a little as well; however, so too has their need to push across their message not through their lyrics alone, but through samples.

Alas, Dystopia holds bloat like a body that’s been floating down a sizzling river in the blaze of late July. A deathgrind album should not take four minutes to get to the first riff—in that typical footprint, I should already be rearranging the furniture in my room to allow for maximum body flopping. However, Teethgrinder makes sure that anytime a good thrashing pair comes about (“Birthed into Suffering,” “Worthless”), it’s followed by a sample that saps away any momentum they gained. In an act of preachy defiance, they extend the runtime of late album whales “Cloaked” and “Dystopia” to 8+ minute territory, almost finding a minute-for-minute balance of music to moody monologues. I get that they want us to know about the dangers of social media manipulation and the extent to which companies utilize money and machines to pull our strings, but the reliance on cut-in speeches is simply a crutch for their narrative.

Frustratingly, many riffs do exist on Dystopia. As if they know the audience will need a wake-up call, Teethgrinder takes a moment to wave pit flags with the classic 1-2-3-4 snare countdown, with the most potent riff on “Worthless” causing a mighty upper lip curl. Summoning a blackened flair, these demonic Dutchmen pull out snarling trem runs to further build tension before the next wave of misanthropic video chatter (“Blood Ritual,” “Cloaked”). And in a stroke of genuine aggressive clarity, Teethgrinder let’s loose all pretension to smash a proper beatdown track on “As I Believe the World to Be, So It Is,” which features a vocal switch-up2 with major Harms Way tough guy energy. It’s a shame this track didn’t close the album.

While the world may be a frightening place, and our marionette-holding masters continue to grow in the shadows more powerful with every string we search, Teethgrinder have gone out of their way to make sure that you absolutely recognize their presence (and watch The Social Dilemma). Unfortunately, every time I want to groove or slam dance, I’m pulled right back to this overbearing message. Now, I’m not averse to a strong “big brother” call-to-arms or short samples that are socially relevant. All I ask is that Teethgrinder continues to search for a better way to fold their agenda concisely into their serviceable, and sometimes downright nasty, deathgrind.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Lifeforce Records
Websites: teethgrindernl.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/teethgrinder
Releases Worldwide: July 22nd, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Bolding important… right?
  2. This could be a guest spot or just someone else in the band, I honestly don’t know.
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