Music

Torche Continue to Mine a Complex Brand of Metal With the Mesmerizing 'Admission'

Photo: Dan Almasy / Speakeasy PR

Admission isn't an enormous change in the sound of Torche, but rather an affirmation that this band insists on forging new paths and confounding expectations.

Admission
Torche

Relapse

12 July 2019

Regardless of how wide the genre spans, "metal" can be off-putting to anyone unfamiliar with the music. Furthermore, references to specific sub-genre labels like "stoner" or "sludge" metal can put off even more potential fans. And while they tend to be hit with these labels by the press and even their fans regularly, Miami's Torche take this as a challenge and one that they rise above regularly.

Sure, there's plenty of thick, sludgy riffs all over their albums, but Torche go the extra mile by incorporating other genres into the music in sometimes subtle forms. It's rare for a band to do such an admirable job of transcending all the trappings and the pigeonholing. Their love of different types of music is folded into the sound, but never in a way that seems compromising. "I feel like we all listen to so many different types of music, but not really much within the realm of what we're considered to play," explains Torche guitarist Jonathan Nunez in their latest press kit.

Admission is Torche's long-awaited fifth full length album (following 2015's Restarter) and while a minor personnel shakeup has taken place in the interim, the music remains largely unchanged. Nunez – who switched from bass to guitar after the 2016 departure of guitarist Andrew Elstner – is joined by vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks, drummer Rick Smith, and new bassist Eric Hernandez. The guitar assault begins immediately with the short opener "From Here" and rarely lets up.

"Submission" follows with brawny slabs of bass and guitar relentlessly hanging off the beat, accompanying Brooks' caustic lyrics: "Give up everything / And incinerate your soul / No challenge if you never want to go." The single "Slide" is one of the album's early highlights, thanks in large part to the irresistible Black Sabbath-style riff that memorably punctuates the track. Admission isn't without surprising and welcome tempo changes, either. "What Was" comes deliriously close to thrash levels, both in the BPMs and the 1:30 run time.

One difference between Admission and previous Torche albums lies in the overall finished sound. Like Restarter, Nunez produced Admission, but there's a distinctly richer tone to the songs. Guitars are clearer and sharper. It's possible that in the years since Restarter, the band took time to reassess their approach to the studio. Of course, having new bassist Hernandez on hand certainly doesn't hurt.

As Admission winds through its 11 distinct tracks, there are echoes of stoner-tinged shoegaze ("Times Missing"), 1990s-era guitar grunge (the surprisingly melodic title track), and heavily distorted slow-motion riff fests ("Infierno", "On the Wire"). The amount of variety within the grooves is sometimes subtle, and often pleasantly jarring. As watery distortion effects fill the guitar leads on the closing track, "Changes Come", Brooks sings "I'm alright / The kid isn't gone" and what sounds like either a synth lead or a heavily processed guitar floats above the song, adding yet another dimension to a deceptively varied album. Admission isn't an enormous change in the sound of Torche, but rather an affirmation that this band insists on forging new paths and confounding expectations.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

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.