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Album Review: Torche – Restarter

2 min read

Torche’s new album Restarter showcases both how to do stoner rock right and how to do it wrong, sometimes simultaneously. Although the record contains a number of genuinely impressive moments, its full potential is never realized, due to an occasional over reliance on clichés of the genre. While some of these songs do impressive, unique things, other tracks feel like little more than filler.

Torche - Restarter One of the album’s real standouts is Minions, a song that boasts an incredible guitar solo that soars over a hypnotic, driving beat, creating a beautiful emotional mish mash. The song is at once oddly uplifting, and yet still heavy enough to give your ear drums a sound beating. Similarly, the album’s shortest song, Undone, features the band’s best vocal delivery to date. Harshly effective, lead singer Steve Brooks’ dramatic tones inspire and impress.

Believe It is another success; the song creates a tight, insular world of its own, developing a unique sonic language of insistent drum work, sludge guitars, sudden changes in tempo, and strong vocals. At just over four minutes, it feels like the perfect length: it hangs around long enough to build a pounding mood, but ultimately doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Those three songs represent the most polished tracks of the album however, and although other songs such as the poppy Blasted hold potential, they never quite get to where they’re going. Although Blasted’s technical precision is impressive, it becomes slightly repetitive by its midway point, and its instrumental break feels oddly phoned in. Similarly, although Loose Men features strong work from drummer Rick Smith, its swirling, insistent sound eventually begins to lose some of its power. Musical repetition is a difficult thing to nail: when done right, it has a tremendous power, but when done wrong, it can do little but annoy the listener.

No Servants begins well with a feedback whine and a grinding, driving beat, but at its peak loses sight of itself, and the slow motion guitar work that breaks out past the minute mark never quite has the grittiness that it so clearly aims for.

At eight minutes, album closer Restarter is the most obvious mixed bag of them all: at times it floors the listener, taking a groove and running with it. But at other times, the song suddenly collapses under the weight of its over ambition, and the layered instrumentation topples and breaks apart.

There’s a certain irony in the fact that lead singer Steve Brooks has repeatedly argued that Torche defies categorization then. For a band that claim their music is impossible to pigeon hole, there are a disappointing number of times when Restarter falls back upon genre clichés. Not to say that you shouldn’t buy this record, or even that it’s a uniform disappointment. It’s just pretty good, when it could so easily have been great.