Released: 2015, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Over the last few years, I've been guilty of dismissing Florida's Torche as just another stoner/sludge band. And just why that is, I really can't say. With their fourth album, however, they prove themselves to be anything but - and in rather convincing fashion. And I'm glad they have.
Sure, Torche are sludgey and stonerish. But with Restarter they have taken what's good about that – the huge riffs and mountain-size rhythms – and largely omit what is not – the tedious meandering, indulgent jams and droning, lethargic pace.
Restarter flat out rocks - and right out of the gate for that matter with the bulldozing clamor of the fittingly titled “Annihilation Affair” and its cascade of guitar feedback and pneumatic drums. It only really starts to slacken with the lumbering “No Servants” after the midway point and its trio of two-minute ditties - “Loose Me,” “Undone” and “Blasted” - that bristle with almost hardcore immediacy. Betwixt and between are the Motorheadish rumble of “Bishop In Arms” and the elephant march of “Minions.”
There's preciously little in the way of stoner chill here – as most of Restarter is downright pummeling thanks to a huge wall of guitar buzz and bass throb and Rick Smith’s Flintstonian backbeats. “Bamm, bamm!” indeed. These guys summon the thunder and then some on Restarter, and were it not for Steve Brooks’ disarming vocals and the band’s knack for infectious hooks and melodies, this would have been an intimidating work indeed. Instead, it comes off as a heavier version of vintage Soundgarden or the underappreciated Hum or a more welcoming Dinosaur Jr.
The album stumbles a bit as “No Servants” lurches into the equally leaden “Believe It” and “Barrier Hammer,” which some better sequencing might have remedied, but finishes strong with the spacy, almost dreamy title track with its shrill wash of guitar and relaxed, almost bouncy groove. After the assault of much of the rest of the material, it makes you want to come back for more. And believe me, I will.