Chelsea Grin is one deathcore act that is recognizeable to countless individuals keeping up with the underground metal & core scene in today's generation. Love em or hate em, you cannot deny the impact and influence they've had on their genre. Formed in Salt Lake City, Utah in the late 2000s, this band notably has not a single original member left (following the latest departure of Alex Koehler) and has released five full lengths, including this one, as well as two EPs to date. And now, with their former longtime vocalist as well as their two rhythm guitarists out of the line-up, it seems that Chelsea Grin is working to rebuild their aura from the ground up.
So forth with the release of a brand new album comes with the initiation of a new vocalist...this time in the form of Tom Barber. Formerly known as the frontman of fellow deathcore outfit Lorna Shore, Barber joined Chelsea Grin earlier in 2018 after much speculation by the band's fan base. With this news in mind, there was much hope for a slight, yet noticeable shift in sound from what these artists were accustomed to performing. And, with that in mind, the new full length titled Eternal Nightmare aims to showcase both the abilities of Tom Barber in addition to the maturity and growth of the band's current sound. Eternal Nightmare is packed with 11 tracks and nearly forty minutes of familiar deathcore brutality, newfound genre innovation, growls and gutturals, blast beats, chugging and much more.
The high point of this release would have to be the little sound changes and eclectic, but brief elements that the band implements throughout Eternal Nightmare. In short, nearly every track on here has something fresh — something unique to like about them. For instance, the second song titled 'The Wolf', while also being the shortest on this album, includes a pretty memorable and unusual introduction that leads into its chuggy core-esque composition. I won't spoil it too much, you just have to hear it to know what I'm talking about. This song also notably ends in a similar fashion, with a rather ackward and unorthodox fade out. The next song 'Across The Earth' features a remarkable piano melody played throughout most of its duration, clashing with the deathcore atmosphere and instrumentals consistently. Some other interesting ideas come in songs like 'See You Soon', which has a lot of lyrical and vocal presence in which the instrumentals take a back seat; as well as 'Hostage', a song with a strong melodic break in between the chaos. Overall, the production quality is pretty standard, but decent and there are some addicting riffs, percussion patterns and guitar solos throughout...especially towards the album's end. The outro track is fast-paced stupid deathcore, but also a treat to listen to because of its constant riffing and breakdowns. All in all, there is quite a bit to like about this one, and I felt as though Barber's abilities were utilized well enough.
Though I enjoyed many things about Eternal Nightmare, there are still a few things that seemed a tad stale or out of place in the midst of the greatness. For one, there are a couple of tracks that I didn't care for, and those were mostly 'Dead Rose' (the opening song) and '930 AM', both of which just felt like genericore fillers to me. In addition to the previous point, I felt as though, while this is certainly a step up from the band's previous few releases, there were still parts that felt rather empty or hollow due to there being only one guitar this time around. Don't get me wrong, the guitar parts that are there work for what they are, but I still wish there was more substance and formidability to the guitar lines overall.
Though it is not the best around, Chelsea Grin's Eternal Nightmare succeeded in breathing new life and hope for the band and has exceeded my expectations as well as surprised me in a positive way. It's easily a step in the right direction following the backstep that was Self Inflicted. The new album has its own riffs, own themes, own sound and, consequently, all of those factors come together to give it its own identity. It's somewhat creative, it mixes the oldschool with the modern, and it has some little quirks scattered throughout that make it somewhat unique...making it a surprisingly solid and heavy release in its own right.
Fave Tracks: 'Across The Earth', 'Limbs', 'Hostage'
For Fans Of: Chelsea Grin, Lorna Shore, deathcore
**This release is available now via Rise Records here!**
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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