When Miami band Torche‘s upcoming release Restarter (their fourth full length album) was given to me for review, I was told it was one of the better albums released in recent memory. Without having heard any of Torche’s previous material and seeing that the band is of the sludgy “stoner” class of rock/metal I was intrigued to see how a band of such a specific subgenre could make an album for which one might have such high regard for.
Getting right into the music, upon Annihilation Affair‘s opening notes I was immediately thinking alternative metal with its simple riff and off beat drums. The song is simple yet good, but it didn’t give me the best first impression of what I was in for as Annihilation Affair sounds like many songs I’ve heard before. Then came Restarter‘s second track Bishop In Arms and my opinion on Torche was changed completely. Rather than being another slow and sludgy song (I’ve reviewed many an album where every song tended to be a bit too similar in pace) this track is very fast. Still sludgy and dark sounding it stays true to the sound that Torche is going for throughout the album but as a song it sure turned my head.
There are other slow paced songs on Restarter such as Minions, which has its similarities to the opening track in that it has similar pace and it ends with an instrumental breakdown, but I find the song all together much more catchy. No Servants is unique in that it starts off with guitar feedback from the ending of the song it follows (Blasted) and the feedback continues while the other instruments (bass, drums and vocals) start playing the rhythm for No Servants, only to have the guitars start playing a little over a minute in to the song. Believe It has a fast picking to its guitar riff, but altogether it is one of the slowest paced song on the album. It’s followed by Barrier Hammer which is the closest thing to a doom metal song on the album with its riffs and its Alice in Chains sounding vocal harmonies. (Yes I’m aware Alice in Chains isn’t doom metal, but I’ve always regarded them as the doom metal of all grunge bands).
Torche‘s other faster paced songs on Restarter, much like Bishop In Arms tend to be on the short side and they get to the point rather quickly, like a punk song. Loose Men, Undone and Blasted as well as Bishop in Arms are all under three minutes in length. Funny enough, the slowest paced of these four tracks, Undone, is actually under two minutes. All three of these songs give Restarter such good texture. I kind of wish they didn’t all, for the most part, come one after the other and rather I wish they were a little spread out, more so because having the slower paced songs come one after the other, in particular Barrier Hammer coming after Believe It makes me hear a little too much similarity in the two songs.
I have only one problem with the closing title track to Restarter and it’s that it’s over eight minutes in length. The only reason that is a problem is that Torche singer/guitarist Steve Brooks sings for a bit at the beginning of the song and then also at the two minute mark, but after that it’s the same guitar riff played over and over again. The thing is, it’s such a good riff and has such an awesome pace that’s somewhere perfectly between their slow and fast songs and it really does sound good, but after about four minutes you can turn the song off because you’ve heard it all. It’s a good concept for a closing track and I like how it puts the album in perspective, still staying true to the sludgy sound that Torche wants to be known by.
I have to agree, this IS one of the better albums I’ve heard in recent memory. I like Restarter more and more each time I listen to it. Torche bring a surprising amount of originality to a subgenre that is very tough to bring originality to. Every song is full of instruments and sound that just fill up your speakers and there are such good guitar riffs on each song. True to their subgenre, the guitars really do make the difference. They have a sound that is unmistakeably theirs and have one of the strongest potential futures out of most bands I’ve reviewed.
“Loose Men” – It’s hard to pick this highlight, because other than the title track, the songs on Restarter are either slow paced or fast paced and there’s really nothing in between. That brings it down to what I think are the finest songs of the two spectrums: Minions for the slow paced songs and Loose Men for the fast paced songs. Ultimately I went with Loose Men because I just think it sounds better and it might attract more listeners to like Torche if they heard that song first.
8.5 (Out of 10)
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