Torche – Restarter (Relapse)Thursday, 5th February 2015
Can’t help but think the Floor reunion album sideswipes what Torche has been doing the last decade. And by “doing,” we’re referring to holding down the heavy-rock fort; a band not quite metal, but certainly heavy enough to hang with us goofy goons. The band’s 2012 Harmonicraft effort had its share of bountiful moments; “Kicking,” being the most obvious, yet the band’s inability to go beyond the generic realms of bland-o riff A to bland(er) riff B really saddles what they could really accomplish, something that is afoot across Restarter, the band’s fourth album, and first for Relapse.
The basic thud of opener “Annihilation After” unfortunately, has too much blend-in with Floor’s album, even without a proper detection of that band’s infamous “bomb string.” The counter-balance of severely down-tuned riffs and the melodic vocals of Steve Brooks has long been the band’s bread and butter, yet the peddling and dynamic-less churn of “Bishop in Arms” doesn’t do much. Same applies for “Minions,” which would be a sub-standard sludge jam if Brooks wasn’t such a good singer. Some agility and pop sensibilities (enough with the rhyming) starts to come together on “Loose Men,” which unsurprisingly, is the album’s best cut. Elsewhere, the feedback-drenched and Seattle-ready “No Servants” has some promise, particularly from Brooks, but the woebegone thud of “Barrier Hammer” and the album’s title track leave little to the imagination.
An obvious downer would be Restarter, which is a shame considering Torche’s much-deserved new profile on Relapse. The band has proven to be a valuable, if not wholly unique commodity in underground circles, though, which could lead to either bigger things because of said label union, or a gradual leveling-off of their career. DR was hoping Restarter would go full-on heavy rock pop (again, “Kicking” is such a good song), but none of that here. Moving along…