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Torche

Restarter

Torche - Restarter.jpg

Torche

2015

The genre of "stoner-metal" has always sounded pretty good to me on paper, but most of the time the reality of it leaves a lot to be desired.  I suppose the very concept of the genre is to be blamed for this, as you would expect stoner-metal to have some slower, groovier, and generally more sedate qualities about it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the end result always seems to be at least slightly more underwhelming than I typically anticipate.  Even the all-mighty Kyuss were not immune to this, as much of their material was a tad too meandering for my tastes, but at least Kyuss usually delivered some solid jams and memorable songs more often than not.

I bring all of this up because while Torche are often lumped into the "stoner-metal" category, they seem to bring a uniquely different energy/vibe to the table which helps separate them from the pack of mediocrity to a degree.  This is mainly because most of their songs sport more of a mid-tempo (and occasionally an up-tempo) vibe to them as opposed to the more traditional down-tempo approach associated with the genre.  Couple that with lead singer/guitarist Steve Brooks' more melodic/chilled-out singing style, which helps give the music a generally more accessible flavor, and you have a fairly original beast here.

But of course the most notable characteristic of Torche's music is the incredibly thick and dense wall-of-sound groove they produce, that somehow manages to sound both surprisingly smooth yet also incredibly powerful/grating.  Yes, Torche are big fans of the low-end of the sound spectrum, sporting a rumbling, earth-shatteringly heavy sound with a strong emphasis on the groove.  It's a powerful sound, as the guitars are tuned incredibly low, sometimes to the point of overloading the bass end of things (see the ridiculously heavy jamming on "Barrier Hammer" for example) and the drums often land with a blunt thud.  But somehow, the band manages to keep the vibe generally chilled-out and smoothed-over, thanks in large part to the aforementioned melodic singing and heavy emphasis on the groove.

This all adds up to a pretty enjoyable album for the most part, particularly for fans of groove-heavy music with melodic overtones.  It's nothing amazing mind you, but if you just want some crushingly heavy riffs with a fair amount of melody to help smooth out the rough edges, chances are you'll find a lot to like on perhaps Torche's best album: Restarter (with apologies to Meanderthral).

8.0

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