By Cory Zydyk
There is some music that is meant to be danced to, with pop hooks that invade the mind and body like a virus. On the other hand, there is music that is meant to be an ethereal experience that inhabits another space and transports the listener to another dimension of being. With their fourth album Restarter, genre defying Miami based hard-rock band, Torche, suspend themselves between these two musical realms.
The first track, “Annihilation Affair”, starts the album with a statement. The guitars are extremely sludgy, as if Torche pulled them out of a Florida swamp and started recording. “Annihilation Affair” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, with no time for fun and games, going from a sludgy power-chord laden march to a heavy, stoner induced ambience that sounds like the love child of Sigur Ros and Sleep.
Yet “Annihilation Affair” is definitely not an indication of what Restarter sounds like as a whole. The next track, “Bishop in Arms” is undoubtedly a punk rock influenced affair. Restarter switches on and off between short punk rock tracks that grind out in two and a half to three minutes, to heavier, doom or stoner metal influenced tracks. In this way, the album is always restarting itself, switching between the two worlds – the danceable to the brooding over and over again. Torche is known as a metal band, but it’s an unfair evaluation of their music. Sure, all the music is heavy and fuzzy to the extreme – but half of it is danceable and up-tempo in a way that most metal simply isn’t.
The heavier tracks on this album like “Annihilation Affair”, “Undone”, “No Servants”, “Barrier Hammer”, and “Restarter” are definitely the strongest tracks on this album. They highlight what Torche does so well; defy convention. The songs in this category often subvert expectations – with heavy, repetitive guitar fuzz, but paired with melodic vocal lines that are reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. The faster, punkier songs seem a bit too conventional in comparison – they remind me of my Warped Tour days – days that were filled with endless, sugary sweet pop-punk.
Even with this bipolar feel, the album doesn’t go overboard. You won’t find any crazy, bluesy guitar lines here. There are no tracks that sound like they were snuck in from a Black Keys album. There are no screaming vocals, just endless melodic broods. The album is a battle cry for those who love heavy rock. And I mean really heavy rock; no fluff, no gimmicks; just sweat, a mosh pit and head banging. Torche’s “Restarter” is infectious, it left me dazed, shell-shocked, and with ringing ears, but it also left me wanting more. Good thing there’s a replay button.
Torche will be in Toronto on March 21st at Lee’s Palace with Nothing and Wrong. Step On Magazine will be there!