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Keep Digging - 82%

televiper11, December 5th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Trenchgrinder's name make strike some as a misnomer. This is not a grind band in anyway shape-or-form. Trenchgrinder, in this instance, is more about the actual act of trench warfare than any type of musical micro-genre flag planting. Trenchgrinder play Bolt Thrower (circa The IVth Crusade) style death metal with strong crust and doom influences. And while many bands peddle this type of music in the underground today, Trenchgrinder stand out in two aspects: insanely catchy, killer riffs and a vocalist whose register and approach is more akin to black metal.

Trenchgrinder excels in the riff department. Peace Is Forfeit is chocked full of dense, memorable riffage. And some of them come out of absolute nowhere, like a flinty breakdown or slow doom-y passage arising from the mire of blasting chaos that surrounds it. And while that BT-esque wall-of-chugging groove is omni-present, Trenchgrinder add some nice wrinkles to it, laying some microtonal dissonance and off-time drum patterns. Musically, this record is about as kick-ass as it gets in the BT worship department.

My issue remains with the vocalist. The kind of croaking, gurgling rasps and snarls provided here don't really fit the music that well. They have that lo-fi black metal quality that lacks the necessary oomph to really stand out against these riffs. In some ways, I almost feel like some of the vocal patterns actively work against the music beneath it. And while there have been improvements here over their demoed material, I would like to hear this vocalist take a slightly more traditional DM approach. Are his vocals unique to this style, yes but perhaps too much so.

Overall, Trenchgrinder have self-released a (flaws-and-all) enjoyable record -- one that feels more like a stepping stone to even better things. One hopes that with some minor refinements, they can take the next step and truly slay the metal underground.