By Laina Dawes
Contrary to their name, the bizarre album cover and the somewhat disturbing images of the quartet in the liner notes, Rumpelstilskin Grinder is a serious band – perhaps too serious. While their second full-length serves as a welcoming continuum of 2005’s Buried in the Front Yard with their mix of no-bullshit speed and thrash with a hint of death and grindcore, there are no discernable nuances that make a lasting impression.
Don’t get me wrong: Living for Death, Destroying the Rest is a powerhouse, but on the first few listens one has to really think of something that stands out. One great factor of the band is vocalist / bassist Shawn Reily, whose enunciated shouts a la hardcore (check out the Agnostic Front-esque “Beware of the Thrash Brigade”) compels the listener to actually pay attention to what they have to say. On “Traitor’s Blood” when Reily hatefully spits “the friggin’ torture’s just begun / you thought when we stopped that was the end” you really believe it. These are not just pseudo shock/gore neanderthal lyrics from some prepubescent teenage begging for attention: he sounds like he would torture you to death. And desperately wants to.
While the NWOBHM riffs and traditional structures are tight and energetic, the careful application of the best parts of the various metal sub-genres they aptly apply still leave a blurry residue, which might be because of the too – smooth, velvety production. Tracks like “Darkness Never Ending (Dethroning the Tyrant pt.2)” beg for a more grainy texture, a gritty punch so that the sound seems more organic and less manufactured. Overall, a really good offering from the Philly quartet, but I fear that people will take a few listens and then shelve it.