Torche‘s blend of harmony, sludge with a smirk and a no fucks given attitude has unfairly had them judged hipster metal by some black hearted types, the same sort of goons who’d write off Gorgoroth once they’d discovered Gaahl was gay. Or snob hardcore kids…don’t get me started on the idiots I heard at a recent Converge tour stop who were trashing on Torche’s support slot. Excuse me, but the great Converge hand picked them for the tour, not to mention aren’t exactly a punk by numbers band themselves. Torche have been a vital part of the scene the last few years and inject a welcome dose of self awareness and heft into everything they do. I find them extremely refreshing. If you can’t be affected by a song like first single “Minions” off this baby just leave rock n roll behind you and go play in traffic. The rest of us will be playing Torche Vs. Robots.
New record Restarter is quite an experience, just a shining example of a band being themselves (much like the new Coliseum material, it’s “love us or leave us. This is what we do”). Like Pelican offshoot The Swan King it is both quirky and smart but also pretty easy to rock out too. My only critique is most of the material works as a feeling or vibe more than as super distinct songs, but that’s kind of always been their bag, it seems. It’s kind of about the delivery.
It has been cold as a witches balls in Upstate, Ny and Torche (or the reunited Floor for that matter) always manage to warm me up with those huge walls of distortion and massive low end. Restarter is heavier than the recent Floor effort Oblation which was great (“Rocinante”= so good) but seemed more concerned with pop structure. This Torche record really stretches out and gets weird, but within certain frameworks. It kind of reminds me of old Soundgarden in an odd way in that the album is clearly structured to be listened to all the way but each song really compliments the others or works alone. Torche really upped their game here making sure every inch of Restarter counts, from the trudging “Barrier Hammer” to the near nine minute title track’s thrills and sheets of distorted chills.
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“Annihilation Affair” opens things up in an avant garde manner, hammering drums and bossy riff dissembling within a few minutes to antisocial feedback plus vocals disinterested if you follow along or not. Totally ballsy way to open the record, especially considering how track 2 “Bishop In Arms” is even less accesible in some ways. Despite melodic vocals and a rumbling train drum beat the song has this cool kind of shimmering high end interplay between the vocals and some of the guitar work. It is almost like a really cool movement or sketch that sets up a kind of fleeting mood or the faster part of sex when you’re really excited before you realize you gotta slow it down a little and not blow your wad too soon. And that’s when “Minions” kicks in with low end pay off and the massive slower riffs Torche is heralded for. Steve Brooks beckons to scene minions and the band have their moment in full.
Torche did an extra great job on this record of traversing different frequencies of high and low while still retaining trademarks. There’s not a bad song in the bunch. It really is an “album”, Ill reiterate. By track 4′s “Loose Men” they are really warmed up and have gotten into the fun of this and past the initial “we don’t care what you think” kiss off of the Melvins-y “Annihilation Affair”. “Loose Men” is straightforward, has dueling Thin Lizzy moments over a smart beat and the hookiest vocals on the record. Then they get back into the crushing with the super meaty power of “Undone”, a song made to bring on some shove your neighbor moshing. It’s one of their heavier numbers and a real workman-like rager. This album is officially the shit.
Second half of the record we get down to more business with the pretty conventional for Torche “Blasted”, which might have faired well on Harmonicraft. “No Servants” gets back to the “fuck you” approach with ear piercing feedback that will make dogs bark topped with measured vocal delivery before a brief, bright riff that could be Swervedriver beckons in the driving verse. The chorus is goosebump inducing sludge pop grandeur. Despite underground classics, this is probably their finest hour if they are gonna break on through to the other side.
Purchase the new album from the following locations:
Relapse / iTunes / Amazon ($13.98) / Amazon MP3 ($10.49) / Google Play($9.49) / Bandcamp / FYE ($9.99 In Stores!) / Best Buy ($7.99 First Week Only!) / Buy at a Local Record Store (Includes a Free Pair of Sunglasses at Participating Retailers)