The term Stoner / Sludge is an insult to US quartet Torche and, what’s more, has never even come close to defining them or their blend of crushing backgrounds and soft harmonies. Fifth album Admission (Relapse Records) sees Jonathon Nũnez assume guitarist duties from the departed Andrew Elstner, with Wrong frontman and former Kylesa bassist Eric Hernandez taking over the bass role. Continue reading
Sludge/stoner metal vets, Torche, have returned with their Relapse Records debut, Restarter. I felt as if the title Restarter is absolutely perfect for this album as I cannot seem to stop playing it and just have to give it just one more spin. There truly is something for everyone on this album as the sound ranges from your slow, doom-like sludge songs to what seems like full-blown punk. This album clocks in at just over the 30 minute mark which turns out to be the album’s only downfall as I was itching for more after the title track closer. Having said that, I am a firm believer in quality not quantity so I am thinking it is more of a blessing in disguise. Picking out my favorite tracks seemed like an easy task on the first time through, but after five or so times through, such a task grew more and more difficult.
For me, I found the riff centered tracks on Restarter to be the highlights. The third track in, ‘Minions’, really embodied this well. A simple, repeating, yet catchy riff carries the whole song and keeps your head bobbing the whole time. Not to mention some very crafty but not distracting guitar leads towards the end of the track that closes out the journey. Another fun slow and heavy track with a simple yet fun riff is ‘No Servants.’ On top of the great guitar work, I feel the drum work was exceptional and added a whole new element to the sludge feel. One of the more upbeat and, well, party songs on the album is ‘Blasted’. The riff in this track really brings out the inner party monster in us all and, dare I say, reminded me of Andrew W.K. just a bit. This song was one of the shorter ones coming in at just over two and a half minutes but I feel it plays an important role in the album as the final four tracks after this are in your face and heavy to close out. One of those tracks is the closer, ‘Restarter’ which I feel brought the same energy as the upbeat tracks like ‘Blasted’ and ‘Loose Men’ but still stayed true to the sludge/stoner emotions as earlier tunes such as ‘Annihilation Affair’ and ‘Minions’. This title track closer is also the longest track on the album which is surprisingly over the eight and a half minute mark, which surpasses the other tracks by far. Another great riff and following leads from Steve Brooks as well as great crescendo drum parts from Rick Smith. ‘Restarter’ is one of my favorite tracks to listen to on the album for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the post metal influences really come to fruition on this track better than the rest of the album. Not that the rest of the album needed to sound like post metal, but I just really dug the ride the song puts me on. The other reason, is it is the closing track and it makes you feel like you are going through a wormhole back to where your journey all started so you can (ready for this?) restart it. See what I did there?
Overall, Torche has really out done themselves with only their first release with a strong label such as Relapse Records and I am more than excited what is in the future for these guys. The production was spot on as you can clearly hear all instruments at just the right levels and the vocals come across as another instrument with precise volume and quality. I find it extremely difficult to try and give this album a bad mark but it seems like all I could complain about was the length (31+ minutes, 10 tracks). My only hope is that at the end of 2015, my peers here at Ghost Cult will do right and include “Restarter” in their Top 20 year-end lists so Torche can get a spot in the Top 50. It certainly is well deserved.