Torche - Restarter 01In recent years, very few bands have been able to prevail over my increasingly jaded and negative outlook on music and life itself. One of those bands is Miami natives Torche, who won me over with their unique combination of melodic sense and gut-pummeling heaviness. I was impressed by 2008’s Meanderthal, but the true watershed moment 2012’s Harmonicraft, a damn-near perfect record in my eyes. To say I was looking forward to the bands’ new record, Restarter, would be an understatement.

The album kicks off unassumingly enough with “Annihilation Affair,” more of a downtuned slow-motion chug than an actual song. This theme will continue throughout Restarter, which feels a little heavier on the sludge side of things this time around. “No Servants” and “Barrier Hammer” fit that description as well, avoiding melody or songcraft in favor of complete sonic devastation.

As the album drags on, I find myself waiting for something to happen. As heavy as some of these tracks are, they offer little payoff. Torche‘s secret weapon has always been fun, hook-filled uptempo songs, and there’s precious few of those on Restarter. You’ve got the surf-flavored “Bishop In Arms,” as well as the soothing melodies of “Blasted” and, ahem, “Loose Men.” Tracks like this always remind me of summer, and in my head I picture a ridiculous 1980’s-style beach party, like the volleyball scene from Top Gun. Maybe I should’ve kept that to myself, but the point is, THAT is what makes Torche great. Harmonicraft had about 10 songs like that, and was fucking AWESOME. Restarter has three, and is just…OK.

Torche - Restarter 02The lack of direction is best exemplified by the title track, which closes the album by playing the same riff for 8 FUCKING MINUTES (sole lyric: “Our leaders are done with conversations.” No shit.) If it was any other metal band, I would not be surprised or disappointed by the lack of memorable music. But Torche has set the bar extremely high with their last two records, and frankly, I expect better from them.

Also, fuck whoever mastered this record. I’m not much of an audiophile, but something seemed wrong to me, so I had my AMG posse look into it. Sure enough, this album ranks a mere DR3 on the dynamic range scale — one of the worst scores AMG.com has ever seen. Over-compression is obnoxious enough in its usual habitat of tech death and commercial-grade thrash records, but somehow it’s even worse when applied to a band of such sonic girth as Torche. I briefly considered writing 600 words about my bowel movements instead of having to listen to this record anymore. (If you want to hear more bitching about dynamic range and crappy mastering, click here.)

I’m sure this album will receive glowing reviews at every website on earth other than this one, and maybe they’re right. But to me, the heavier parts of Restarter could be literally any band on Relapse Records, and that defeats the whole purpose of having Torche around. (Incidentally, Torche is ON Relapse Records now). There are still some bright spots here, don’t get me wrong — I just wish there were more of them.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 3 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
LabelRelapse Records
Websites: TorcheOfficial | Facebook.com/Torche
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 02.14.2015

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  • Alexandre Barata

    It does sound kinda weak and unremarkable. And probably recorded on one of those radios with mic that my little sister had from the Barbie.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Alright, at least two people in the world agree with me!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I’m betting the DR:3 compression will have a few people hitching up their cranky pants…

        • Yep, my cranky pants are starting to feel a little small, and not in a good way.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            ouch

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Annihilation affair is an interesting choice for promo, in that it’s not very engaging. You’re right in what you say it doesn’t really feel like a ‘song’, I do dig the guitar at the end tho. Harmonicraft was as enjoyable as it was cause it had killer songs. An 8 minute one riff one lyric song…I don’t think even zeppelin could pull that off…
    Good review Mr Fisting, well done AMG for being one of the few metal sites that tell it like they see it.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      It had been a while so I went back to Harmonicraft such a great album full of catchy tunes…I wonder if this is a case of the band wanting to be more progressive or feeling a need to ‘metal up’ for their new label.
      8 mins sheesh thats like 3 or 4 songs from Harmonicraft. I’ll check this one out for the nuggets you mention but it’s a pass for me I suspect.

      • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

        You raise an interesting question — if the band tried to alter their sound somewhat to fit in better on Relapse. Or in other words, to suck more.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Im sure this will all be explained in the metalsucks website 4.5/5 review

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            MetalSucks: The Fox News of heavy metal.

          • Grymm

            THANK YOU!

            Somebody needed to say this.

        • Oh c’mon, Relapse’s not that bad. At the very least they have Black Anvil and Atriarch signed. You may say they are poaching Profound Lore’s bullpen but we will need gossip proof of that.

          And hey, they just signed Graves at Sea, so there’s that.

  • Welp, one to take off the hype list. If the preview track is the norm rather than the exception, then I don’t think I’ll put this on my wishlist.

  • Evan Roche

    Huge bummer. What the hell happened?