Sound — 6
Torche formed in Florida in 2004 after both Steve Brooks (guitar/vocals) and Juan Montoya (guitar) both finished with their mutual previous band, Floor. Jonathan Nuñez and Rick Smith, who filled bass and drum duties, respectively, had both been in several grindcore bands together before forming Torche with Brooks and Montoya. Montoya later left the band in 2008 after recording and releasing their second album, "Meanderthal." At the time, Montoya's departure was attributed to creative differences, but later it was revealed that Montoya and Brooks had a physical altercation that resulted in Montoya leaving the band. Torche remained a three piece band until 2011 when Andrew Elstner came in as a second guitarist/vocalist. The band's third album, "Harmonicraft," was released in 2012 and was the first album with Elstner. "Restarter" is the band's fourth album, and comes with 10 tracks and a runtime of a tad under 40 minutes.
The album opens up with the track, "Annihilation Affair," which is a nice, sludgy opener for the album with some good garage riffing on guitar. "Bishop in Arms" is probably the most involved song, musically, on the whole album - it has some interesting stuff going on with the lyrics as well. "Minions" is next up, and I couldn't help thinking it sounds a LOT like something I might play late at night trying to play some metal riffing - mostly chugged eighth notes. "Loose Men" is another pretty simple song - again, you have the (mostly) straight eighth note riffing and it seems like the bass is mostly just doubling the guitar or are my ears deceiving me? On the other hand, the lead guitar part from "Loose Men" is briefly interesting. "Undone" is less than 2 minutes and is just some really swampy riffing with the high point being some interplay between the drums/bass and guitar. "Blasted" has a repeating riff for most of the track, which sticks mainly to straight eighth note riffing. "No Servants" is more of the same - eighth note riffing. "Believe It" reminds me of the wicked witch's army's marching chant from "The Wizard of Oz." There was more going on with this track than a lot of the album - I enjoyed it quite a bit. "Barrier Hammer" is, luckily, a song where the band is taking some baby steps away from the formula they seemed to have got caught up in with much of the album - it was a fairly enjoyable track. The album closes out with the title track, "Restarter," which is by far the longest song on the album at over 8 minutes and almost twice as long as the next longest song on the album. "Restarter" is the track where I finally started thinking the album would sound a lot better with some tasteful soloing and lead guitar work. Oh well.
Lyrics — 7
Steve Brooks has a voice well suited to their genre of music - that being sludge or stoner metal - where vocals aren't necessarily the most important thing going on, and usually take advantage of some reverb and such. Andrew Elstner supplies some vocals as well, though I can't really tell where he's singing for the most part, or if he is just supplying some backing vocals. Regardless, the vocals are satisfactory. The lyrics are pretty intriguing, though most of the songs on the album aren't very wordy. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some from the song, "Minions": "High brow tradition/ Let's discover/ restricted/ few misguided reasons/ some day proved/ we'll all see them/ white powered duchess/ kind to some new prospects/ come by minions/ and soon be mine/ in the millions/ tired and stunned/ mad poets/ crew of yes men/ cashed puppets/ key to the selector/ tied to your weakest defender." That is pretty much it except for some repetition of those lyrics.
Overall Impression — 6
This is a simple album compared to some of the band's previous material, and by that I mean it is much more straightforward with less going on musically, for the most part. It is less interesting than most of their back catalog. It doesn't sound like most of the song ideas were well fleshed out. With that being said, I didn't hate it - I just felt like it had been over-simplified. I don't know if the band is purposely simplifying their music, or if they got lazy (or didn't have any strong inspiration during this recording cycle?), but I hope this was an anomaly and they'll go back in the direction of their previous releases which seemed to have something a little bit more interesting going on. There were a few songs that I still enjoyed quite a bit - mainly "Believe It," "Bishop in Arms" and "Undone."