Album Review: Torche – “Restarter”

torche-restarter

If you listen to as much sludge and doom as we do in a typical month here at Horns Up, you’ll know that the occasional, pace-changer becomes a very welcome occurrence. When you’re left beaten, bruised and weirded out by a sea of slow, often-depressing jams, it’s kind of refreshing to hear new stuff from a band like Torche every now and again. Since forming a decade ago, the Miami quartet’s made its name by taking the basic sonic qualities of these subgenres and…wrong as this term might sound here…brightening them up a bit. The band continues this streamlined, “spit-shining” approach in full force on their new fourth album, Restarter—an absolute breeze of a record and one of the most purely fun listens you’ll have this year.

Right off the bat, the first thing you’ll notice is how much bass this damn thing has. Where Torche’s previous three albums cast their sludge through a wider, more expansive soundscape, Restarter feels very much like it’s being fed directly to you through a tunnel—which might sound like a negative but ends up becoming one of the album’s most endearing qualities. You won’t just be listening to these 10 songs; you’ll be very much feeling them as well. It’s breathtakingly pulsating.

Don’t worry, things hold up from a compositional standpoint, too. With ten songs in a little more than 38 minutes, the run-time math alone should clue you in on what you’re getting here: a set of heavy grooves that never overstay their welcome. And whether the band styles them as mid-tempo numbers (“Minions”) or more upbeat fare, (“Loose Men”) that’s more or less what they achieve here. With most songs tipping the scales at four-and-a-half minutes or less, you’re rarely left wanting less; in fact, a couple of the shorter numbers like “Bishop in Arms” or “Undone” are so short that you’ll almost feel cheated when their abrupt endings arrive.

But then, there’s Restarter‘s title track. For a band whose albums typically average around three-minutes-per song in run time, a nine-minute-long closer was always going to turn heads. But dammit, does Torche ever pull it off. The song will hook you in initially with its meaty guitar riff and steady, driving rhythm, but it’s the way they stretch both of these out throughout the song that’s truly impressive. As the band gradually adds new layers to the mix—an octave lead line here, some harmonizing chord structures there—things start to get positively hypnotic, and the nine minutes simply fly by. If this isn’t the band’s new set-closer during live gigs, they’ll be doing themselves and their audiences one hell of a disservice.

The album isn’t without its missteps; the two songs that precede the title track never quite come together as well as their counterparts on the rest of the album. But even so, eight out of ten is far from bad—and given the relative strength of the rest of the material on Restarter, “Believe It” and “Barrier Hammer” are easy to overlook. Throw this one on, kick back and let the band’s “thunder pop” sweep you away.

Keep it heavy,

-Dan


Restarter is available now on Relapse Records. For more information on Torche, visit the band’s official website.

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

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