Music

Torche: Restarter

On Restarter, Torche delivers the smoothest sludge.


Torche

Restarter

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2015-02-24
UK Release Date: 2015-02-24
Amazon
iTunes

In the post-Grammy inanity, it’s high time that metal demands more respect in the American consciousness. The golden statute for best metal song went to Tenacious D for Satan’s sake, a literal joke band. I propose a different sort of awards show that caters only to the finest headbangers in the world. At this hypothetical spectacle there’s an award for "Metal MVP" and it’s got Steve Brooks name written all over it. Brooks already cemented a legacy in the Southern metal community with his work in sludge titans Floor and Torche, but it was in the late 2000s that he and the many merry rabble-rousers he worked with started a skull-crushing reign. In 2008, Torche released their breakthrough, the manically energetic Meanderthal, but 2012 was when Torched kicked it into high gear. Harmonicraft is one of the finest metal releases of this decade, a thrilling joy ride with rainbow colored guitar solos and Brooks’ soaring vocals reaching new heights. Afterward, Brooks regrouped Floor and released the solid Oblation last year. Turns out that sludge pioneers get bored, and Torche had launched back with the aptly titled Restarter.

Torche have smartly realized that there was nowhere to go with Harmonicraft’s hyper active sound. It was the best aspects of pop-rock and sludge melted together, a synthesis that would be near insurmountable. So Restarter is a quick hit on the reset button, a slower, muddier affair that focuses less on skydiving guitar riffs and more on stomping low ends. That much is obvious from the brilliantly thrashing opening salvo "Annihilation Affair". Along with having the best song title in recent memory, "Annihilation Affair" sounds like a steam-roller of war, barreling into battle. Restarter’s best songs follow "Annihilation Affair"’s example, immovable objects rumbling forward thanks to guitar work that’s heavier than lead elephants. "Minions" has Brooks acting as an evil wizard, shouting out "come my minions!" and the guitars rally to his cry. The decimation of "Barrier Hammer" falls into the same vein of war-chants that fellow sludge disciples Conan brought on their last album. "Barrier Hammer" only clocks in at about four minutes, but it’s as overpowering as a warship, and serves as the first great metal moment of 2015.

That’s not to say that Torche have completely trashed the speedy tricks they pulled on Harmonicraft. "Bishop in Arms", smartly placed between "Annihilation Affair" and "Minions", has Brooks’ guitar howling in unison with Andrew Elstner’s. Elstner and Brooks are perfectly in sync throughout Restarter, it feels like they did a Super Saiyan fusion dance before they started recording, so their combined ferocity could engulf the album. Jonathan Nuñez and Rick Smith also get their kicks in as Restarter’s vital rhythm section. The all crushing low end just wouldn’t be the same without Smith’s head-stomping kick drum or the churning madness of Nuñez’s bass. The ferocious fun of "Loose Men" sprints along, a solid reminder that Nuñez and Smith’s backgrounds are in Screamo and Grindcore, smartly showing they can still bring the speed when needed.

Restarter, for all its excellence, is still overcast by the monolithic shadow of Harmonicraft. But Restarter’s finale and title track confirm that Torche are brimming with ambition and unafraid of new directions. "Restarter", is a multi-part, nearly nine-minute epic, that pulses along thanks to a surprisingly emotional guitar solo and one of Brooks’ finest screams piercing the madness. Torche show no fear on Restarter, delivering further proof that they might be the most spirited band in metal.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Coronavirus and the Culture Wars

Infodemics, conspiracies -- fault lines beneath the Fractured States of America tremble in this time of global pandemic, amplify splinters, fractures, and fissures past and present.

Music

'Switched-On Seeker' Is an Imaginative Electronic Reimagining of Mikal Cronin's Latest LP

Listeners who prefer dense rock/pop timbres will no doubt prefer Mikal Cronin's 'Seeker'. However, 'Switched-On Seeker' will surely delight fans of smaller-scale electronic filters.

Music

IYEARA Heighten the Tension on Remix of Mark Lanegan's "Playing Nero" (premiere)

Britsh trio IYEARA offer the first taste of a forthcoming reworking of Mark Lanegan's Somebody's Knocking with a remix of "Playing Nero".

Music

Pottery Take Us Deep Into the Funky and Absurd on 'Welcome to Bobby's Motel'

With Welcome to Bobby's Motel, Pottery have crafted songs to cleanse your musical pallet and keep you firmly on the tips of your toes.

Music

Counterbalance 23: Bob Dylan - 'Blood on the Tracks'

Bob Dylan makes his third appearance on the Acclaimed Music list with his 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks. Counterbalance’s Eric Klinger and Jason Mendelsohn are planting their stories in the press.

Music

Luke Cissell Creates Dreamy, Electronic Soundscapes on the Eclectic 'Nightside'

Nightside, the new album from composer and multi-instrumentalist Luke Cissell, is largely synthetic and electronic but contains a great deal of warmth and melody.

Music

Bibio Discusses 'Sleep on the Wing' and Why His Dreams Are of the Countryside

"I think even if I lived in the heart of Tokyo, I'd still make music that reminds people of the countryside because it's where my dreams often take me," says Bibio (aka Stephen Wilkinson) of his music and his new rustic EP.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Film

A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.

Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.