Rumpelstiltskin Grinder: Ghostmaker

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Rumpelstiltskin Grinder: Ghostmaker
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Rumpelstiltskin Grinder: Ghostmaker
Thrash Metal
Candlelight Records
June 19th, 2012
Release length: 45:51
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s Rumpelstiltskin Grinder has been a strong force in the underground Metal scene, but this is something many attribute to their unique approach to the style at the start of the current Thrash revival. Since their 2005 debut album Buried in the Front Yard, certain circles have been abuzz with their name flowing freely off the tongue, whether in a serious manner or otherwise. But, this hasn’t stopped the group, and for 2012 we find them releasing their third full album, Ghostmaker, through Candlelight Records. But, given the flack their last recording, Living for Death, Destroying the Rest received, is this one a step foward, or just another back?

The album has a slightly raw bite to it, but overall it still sounds crisp and heavy. The guitars are moderately higher in pitch and somewhat clean, giving everything a bit of an eerie vibe when necessary. The bass is strong in the mix too, having a pretty loud level that can be picked up on immediately while adding a nice groove that mixes seamlessly with the other chords. The kicks have a subtle click to them that does stand out, but ends up similar to the tighter snares around the same pitch. It’s not bad, but that can’t be said about the cymbals. These are good for the most part, but are pushed back in the mix too far, and sometimes those in the forefront don’t always sound too good when there’s heavy focus on them. Of course, the vocals here are handled with a rasp, but it fits the more aggressive material nicely, in the end aiding the Impaled style Thrash Metal approach of many songs, and the Hardcore influence of others.

But not all tracks tend to be aggressive “Nightworms” is a far catchier track than others, though still carries a bit of a creepy atmosphere to it here and there, such as in the leads to the first minute. Once it kicks in, the two-step kicks and simpler guitar chords have enough energy to make you want to throw down on the spot with some later atmospheric hooks that even have a slight Rockabilly touch to them, really taking advantage of the bass groove present. “Fucking Wild” carries a bit of an early Heavy Metal vibe to it, but at a blistering Thrash pace. The vocals are greatly reduced, which matches the high speed approach complimented well by a strong drumming performance.

But, while these catchier songs do stand out, in the end the aggression does its best to grab you by the throat and not let go. “Those Who Are Unseen” just whips you around from left to right while latching tightly on your throat. The main verses aren’t as bad, but some bridges do amp up the intensity a little more, along with a catchy approach that continues to build up to the chorus each time. “Get Out of My Grave/Gigantic Graveyard” meshes a Crossover Thrash force well with an early aggressive straigth Thrash Metal approach that makes headbanging and moshing more of a mandate than a musically influenced suggestion. The galloping bass kicks really help out at times, and the grim, creepy atmospheres the leads present truly make it stand out as one of the most engaging songs the offering presents. The only gripe to be found here is the slower breakdown towards the end that suits the environment, but clearly doesn’t need to exist. “Dripping with Venom” is about the same level as “Those Who Are Unseen,” though doesn’t really have the same kind of progressive build to it. The ending will throw things into a different field though, being a lot richer with a Heavy Metal vibe, and even closes on some gang chants. Unfortunately, it’s about this point that the group’s previous Hardcore concepts really start to come back into play.

For example, “Iron Jaw” carries a heavy Hardcore Punk foundation to it. One of the shortest songs, it honestly doesn’t offer much to the listener aside an additional hint of Thrash aggression in the vocal performance. “Cold Haunting Death” finds a lot of hooks driving the chorus to the very style’s influence, but the main riffs come off rather bass heavy with a bit of a Kreator meets Hardcore approach, something that throws back to their previous album Living for Death, Destroying the Rest. It’s still enjoyable with some decent transitions, but this is far from one of the better entries, especially the solo around the two and a half minutes mark. There’s also “A Lurking Thief,” which is a slower paced song with catchy chords that also has some Hardcore style moments, but carries a cold atmosphere to it that clearly tries to be a bit glorious, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. While the song isn’t bad, much like “Cold Haunting Death,” it just isn’t the most inspiring.

Ghostmaker really starts off with a strong fire behind it, but things do start to calm down a few songs in, giving way to their brand of Hardcore laced with Thrash Metal. Rumpelstiltskin Grinder is still a unique front in the Thrash world, but some of these tracks ultimately end up having the attitude, just not being all that enjoyable to listen to. In the end, if you’re already a fan there’s no denying you’ll like this release, as it’s as strong as Living for Death, Destroying the Rest. But, even if this approach isn’t your thing, there’s still a good number of songs that are well worth sampling on iTunes, and maybe even picking up if you don’t feel like spending the ten US dollars plus for the full release, as songs like “Those Who Are Unseen,” “Fucking Wild,” and a few others will have you coming back for more.

01. Those Who Are Unseen – 3:11
02. Ghostmaker – 3:06
03. Nightworms – 4:52
04. Fucking Wild – 3:12
05. Dripping with Venom – 3:47
06. Cold Haunting Death – 4:28
07. A Lurking Thief – 3:51
08. You’ve Been Had – 2:32
09. Iron Jaw – 3:04
10. Get Out of My Grave / Gigantic Graveyard – 4:42
11. Run Through the Bastards – 5:25
12. Desert Goblins – 3:39
Overall Score: 6.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Candlelight Records.