Torche – Restarter (Relapse: 2015)
On their aptly-titled fourth album, bubblegum stoner sludge outfit, Torche, have effectively started anew. Taking cues from front man Steve Brook’s other recently reunited sludge metal project, Floor, Restarter brings back the thick, chunky guitars heard on Meanderthal while eschewing most of the harmonious pop-punk trappings found on 2012’s ever-so-catchy Harmonicraft. “Annihilation Affair”, the album’s thunderous opener, pounds the listener into submission with a single, unrelenting riff before calling upon a deafening feedback bomb to remind you tinnitus is a very real thing. While Torche just wouldn’t be Torche without a helpful dose of melodic, arena rock chants and choruses even your dad would sing along to, Restarter finds them doubling down on their sludge component, sometimes to their detriment. The band’s shift towards Melvins-like riffery unfortunately comes at the expense of overall catchiness, one of Torche’s most striking and distinctive features. In spite of this, Torche have conjured up yet another tasty, candy-coated and merciless sludge assault. If Restarter feels a tad one-note, it’s a damn good one nonetheless.
Trial Track: “Restarter”