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.
Around the turn of the Millennium, Floor occupied a genre of one. A dozen or so years on and the only band capable of emulating Steve Brooks’ old band is his new one, Torche. But after reuniting for a few shows, Floor decided to head back into the studio and the results are enough to make you think you’ve gone back in time a decade.
Consisting of Brooks (vocals/guitar), Anthony Vialon (guitar), and Henry Wilson (drums), Oblation (Season of Mist) is the band’s first proper album since 2002’s self-titled debut LP. The template of the songs is much the same as in previous years; leaden-paced doom riffs with Brooks’ grungy, melodic vocals. It’s a winning combination, but the band’s best trick is managing to create an album in line with their history but doesn’t play like a tired rehash.
From the lumbering opening of the title track to more upbeat ‘War Party,’ the band manage to mix the heavy with the accessible seamlessly. Huge, droning riffs mix with vocal hooks that wouldn’t be out of place on mainstream chart albums. The fuzz-laden weight of ‘Trick Scene’ could rattle your teeth out, while Brook’s haunting vocals ensure there’s energy hidden within the thick fog of reverb. It’s not as polished or sickly sweet as some of Torche’s recordings – and to many will sound like a more primitive version of that band – but Oblation is all the better for it.
Whether it’s the hypnotising ‘New Man,’ the eeriness of ‘Homegoings and Transitions’ or the pure catchiness of ‘Sister Sophia,’ Floor fans will find plenty like about the band in 2014. The songs are tighter, generally more cohesive and the overall impact of the record is genuinely satisfying. It’s bursting with massive, crushing riffs, yet feels remarkably upbeat. The seven-minute ‘Sign Of Aeth’ is probably the album reaching its zenith; epic, snail paced guitars compliment the melancholic vocals before ending on a euphoric high.
The only real criticism you can throw at Floor is the lack of variety of songs means the 45 minute run time can seem excessive, especially when previous releases have barely scraped the half hour mark. But it’s a small niggle. Oblation (Season of Mist) is a remarkable album; it will shake you to your bones but leave with a smile on your face. Fans of Torche should get it, fans of anyone who likes their metal heavy should get it.