Review by Seth Wood
It amazes me that after so many years of being an ardent music fanatic, I still learn new things about songwriting every day. For instance, I was unaware that an album could be very repetitive and have almost no melody, yet completely take hold of my emotional state. This was my experience while listening to Torche’s newest album, Restarter, coming out February 24th. Torche’s vocalists do not sing but just sort of groan sporadically into the microphone. The drum rhythms just repeat measure after measure, and the guitars will pick at the same note for what seems like minutes at a time. All of this, and I never once found myself wanting to stop listening to the album. There was so much repetition, yet it felt like things were mounting to create something bigger, like the song was always moving somewhere new even while staying true to its obvious motif. It really had me in a kind of trance, almost like I was getting a buzz off of listening to it: I can certainly see why whoever wrote their Wikipedia page threw in the term “stoner rock” to describe them. This album does not challenge its listeners like a prog rock record would. It does not pump out anger like a metal album would. It just gets the listener bobbing their head, and invites them to just relax and enjoy the music.
The one thing I did not enjoy so much was the rhythm guitar tone. It is that sludgy distortion that creates malaise and a feeling of insecurity. Hearing it once in a while is interesting but I feel like a lot more bands are going for it and it is just getting a little old. Once you have heard it once, it pretty much loses its magic. Luckily, the tone does not take away the effects of the guitar riffs themselves. The trance effect is not hindered in the least, and oh man, the solos just multiply the album’s effect on the listener. The notes go places you think they won’t. Scratchy, incomprehensible distortion comes when you expect notes. The entire time you are listening to the album, you are 95% sure you are aware of how the song is functioning and progressing—but that other 5% just keeps evading you, which keeps you mesmerized and baffled again by the wonders of music.
This album did not change my life; I do not consider these guys to be masterful songwriters, but listening to their album was really an experience. So many other albums are just songs. These do not feel like songs at all, just movements of emotion which leave the listeners relaxed and entranced.
Listen to "Minions"