Just when you thought that grindcore couldn’t get any more punishing, with recent releases by Nails, Columns and Misery Index plumbing new depths of aggression and hate-filled violence, along comes Torch Runner, a three-piece from Greensboro, NC, who with new record Endless Nothing (Southern Lord) look set to cause even more cerebral haemorrhages and broken bones than your average night at an unlicensed boxing match.
Clocking in at a mere 22 minutes, Torch Runner waste little time in creating an atmosphere of unease and tension with the squalid feedback and unhinged brutality of the likes of ‘Attrition’ and ‘Bound by Misery’ causing merry havoc. Aided by a brutally thick guitar tone and a vocalist who sounds like he’s on the verge of escaping from his straightjacket, the songs on offer here are short, sharp and about as pleasant as being on the receiving end of a cup full of battery acid. However the band aren’t just another set of one-dimensional speedfreaks as the tortured crawl of ‘Godlust’ and the skin-crawling sludge of ‘Circle of Shit’ emphatically proves. The latter in particular features a bass guitar tone that could bring down trees, while the intrusive feedback is reminiscent of Eyehategod at their most unpalatable.
While the members obviously have an appreciation for the crustier side of things as so many on the grind spectrum do, here the influence has been carefully imbued into the songwriting process, rather than smeared haphazardly on the surface like a layer of, well, crust. This gives Endless Nothing a feeling of authenticity that many of the bandwagon-hoppers just can’t manage.
A truly horrible and violent album that will have fans of Nails and Brutal Truth foaming at the mouth even more than they usually do on a daily basis.