‘Eternal Nightmare’ sees Utah based deathcore mob Chelsea Grin favour a singular guitar assault as opposed to their trademark three. On top of this change, it marks the first release for not only new vocalist Tom Barber (ex-Lorna Shore), it’s also the first that contains no founding members of the group.
The absence of guitars doesn’t stop Stephen Rutishauser from displaying some fretboard chops as he kicks off ‘Dead Rose’ with an arsenal of down-tuned chugging and galloping riffs. The track sees the group playing it safe, sticking to the expected percussive chords, low growls, and chant along breakdowns.
‘The Wolf’ take some new twists, with drummer Pablo Viveros playing call-and-response between blast beats and pulsing electronics before squealing feedback hurtles you into the verse. Barber begins to find his feet with a barrage of low growls and high shrieks punctuating the rhythmic guitar riffs.
The experimentation continues on ‘Across The Earth’, playing with reoccurring motifs courtesy of a piano lead, with changing structures to maintain energy throughout. Barber also shines throughout the track, using the chorus to cram in as many techniques as possible, ranging from shouted vocals to bellowed screams.
Viveros keeps up the album’s pace throughout, fitting in as many flourishes as possible, from choppy drum fills on ‘See You Soon’ and pummelling kick runs dominating ‘Limbs’. He definitely doesn’t disappoint.
Whilst the album has many nuances to discover, ‘Scent Of Evil’ stands out for its effective use of space. Based around hardcore style chord runs, Rutishauser and Barber play off of one another, touching on harmonising – a technique seldom seen in the sub genre.
For an album that’s firmly rooted in percussive riffing and a heavy reliance on breakdowns, it’s refreshing to hear clean guitar notes saunter through the first half of ‘Outliers’. Using a sharp contrast between moments of rest and unhindered heaviness, the chorus hits hard, allowing chanted vocals and broken patterns to take over.
Ending the record with its titular track, the group run through ringing chords, guitar scale runs, and a catchy chorus at an unrelenting pace. Whilst it certainly may not break any new ground, it undoubtedly will be a favourite at live shows for the foreseeable future.
Granted, for the most part Chelsea Grin have played it safe with ‘Eternal Nightmare’, but by adding a few deviations to their tried and tested formula, they’ve created a new avenue for them to explore going forward.