It's been a rough road the past few years for good ol' Chelsea Grin; from numerous line-up changes to dropping off a tour earlier this year to alcoholism, the CG dudes have been through a lot and for the most part, have always managed to come out on top. But when the only original member of the band - vocalist Alex Koehler, who has been with the band since 2007 - made the announcement in April that he was departing Chelsea Grin, the metal community was certainly shook. Like him or not, Koehler has no doubt become a major face in the deathcore community with the growing popularity of the band, and having him come out and share his addiction with us and announce his departure definitely hit pretty hard. When Chelsea Grin announced their acquisition of Tom Barber formerly of Lorna Shore as the new vocalist, the metal community was even further shaken. Major changes to a band can sometimes split a fanbase, and upon the release of the first video from Chelsea Grin's new album - "Dead Rose" - browsing through the comments on social media will definitely prove that to be true. Some people couldn't praise the new change and new sound enough, while others were left shattered feeling that the band was over with from that point on. As a major fan of both bands, it definitely flipped my world upside down for a minute but after hearing "Dead Rose," I knew something good was on its way in the form of a new, fresh face for Chelsea Grin - and that new, fresh face is the brand new album Eternal Nightmare. And honestly, it's the release I've wanted from CG for a while now.
Eternal Nightmare sees Chelsea Grin bringing back their old school, truly heavy sound that felt missing in the prior release, Self Inflicted. Don't get me wrong, there's certainly heavy parts throughout Self Inflicted, but nothing on the scale that we see on Eternal Nightmare - it's almost non-stop heavy from start to finish, with a few calm and quieter moment throughout. Take "Dead Rose" for example - one listen to the song will take you right back to Ashes to Ashes or even My Damnation era Chelsea Grin. It's a sound that was surely missed on Self Inflicted, and that hits super fucking hard on Eternal Nightmare. And as you progress through the album song by song, it won't take long for you to realize the album is getting progressively heavier, and heavier, and heavier. Prior to Eternal Nightmare's release, they teased two other tracks - "See You Soon" and "Hostage" - that reinforced the bands new epic sound. There songs are definitely the "softest" songs on the record, since the songs the band didn't tease are straight insanity. Take "Scent of Evil," title track "Eternal Nightmare" and my personal favorite track "Nobody Listened" for example: three hard-hitting tracks of fine brutality that continue to crush one after another. Instrumental wise, it's some of the finest writing we've seen from Chelsea Grin; Pablo's iconic skills behind the kit along with his backing vocals, backed by Stephen Rutishauser's nasty guitar and David Flinn's gnarly bass work make for some of the best headbanging, call-for-mosh music in the bands eleven year history. The new face of the band - Tom Barber - squeezes himself in perfectly alongside his new band mates to deliver a vocal style not really seen in any of his previous work with Lorna Shore. It's a different take on deathcore vocals from Barber, but it's one that fans of Chelsea Grin's most recent music would probably appreciate more. Chelsea Grin's music calls for a different, arguably less intense vocal style than that of Lorna Shore, who's music simply demands a heavier, more death metal style. But don't mistake what I'm saying: Tom's vocals coincide with the instrumentals on Eternal Nightmare perfectly and now that the album is out, I can't even think of someone who could have done a better job replacing Alex as the front man of the legendary Grin (and that's coming from a long-time Lorna Shore fan!).
Overall, though - Eternal Nightmare is definitely what I've wanted from this band for a long time now. The potential has always been there, and the band definitely deliver it this time around with eleven incredible tracks. "The Wolf" is a fun track with a sick, fast electronic intro that leads into my favorite guitar riff on the album; the powerful riff feels like a river of energy as it flows and overpowers your ears (see 1:28). It's fucking addicting and intoxicating in its delivery and I can seriously listen to it over and over again. "Outliers" is another badass song that just feels like a healthy, revitalized Chelsea Grin with one of the sickest and heaviest breakdowns we've ever seen from the band. There's not a bad song on this album, and that's something I feel like we haven't said since Desolation of Eden. If this is the future of Chelsea Grin, then the future is looking fuck great. Eternal Nightmare is a must-listen for any fans of the genre; they killed it on this one.
Check out the video below for "Hostage" off the new album, and if you dig what you hear be sure to check out the band on Facebook, Instagram, or their merch store!