Sound — 8
Torque is a band that even some of the veteran thrash fans aren't too familiar with. Formed from the ashes of bay area legends Vio-lence, Torque consisted of Phil Demmel (Vocals/Guitar), Ray Vegas (Guitar), Deen Dell (Bass) and Mark Hernandez (Drums) and they released three demos and one self titled full length before sadly disbanding. This review is for their full length, so lets get started - to put it simply, this is brilliant. The record starts with opener 'H.L.S' and immediately smacks you in the face with stupidly fast drumming from Mr. Hernandez and riffs so catchy that you can't help but hum them to yourself when you're sat on the bus or whatever. Following up with 'Again', which - alongside 'Breed' and 'Shooter' - is actually a Vio-lence song, released on their 1993 demo. This is almost identical to the Vio-lence version, with the exception of having Demmel on vocals as opposed to Sean Killian, though it's slightly slower than the demo. Needless to say, it's just one of those songs that makes you wnat to go absolutely nuts. Phil's vocals are best on this song, snarling and spitting as if possessed and sometimes sounding like a cross between Sean Killian and Chuck Billy, with a simple yet effective solo from Ray Vegas and more killer drumwork from Mark. The album never lets up, it continues to surprise you at every turn just as you start to think "This song will be the same as the last" in certain instances it'll throw you a curveball via tempo changes, or even something as simple as a tasty riff or lick. I needn't go on with a song-by-song description really as this album needs to be heard to really experience it properly. It's hardly surprising that there are a few bass intros from Deen Dell on here, as the man has a bucketload of talent and since a majority of the riffs aren't as technical as those he played in Vio-lence I think it's slightly unfortunate that he never really gets to shine on this record. His bass is rather high in the mix though so I suppose that may make up for it to a certain extent. Anyhow, talking of the mix, it's near flawless with plenty of bass, clear drums, very nice guitar tone (plenty of crunch) and nicely even. Not too quiet either, which is always great when you listen to albums like Xentrix's "Scourge" which, despite being released the same year as this, is far too quiet. One more thing I feel might need a small mention is that all these songs are played in D Standard tuning, which may or may not have been to gain a little more commercial interest with the rise of groove metal in the mid 90's, and though a lot of thrash fans will frown upon this it does work very well. Yes there are a few groove elements in here, but that doesn't change the fact that the album owns. For a 1996 release, this is the thrashiest you could get at the time and it's still better than a lot of the stuff being churned out nowadays.
Lyrics — 6
I'll get Philthy Demmelition's vocals out of the way first, because to be perfectly honest they're nothing too life-changing. Don't get me wrong he fit's the music really well and he has plenty of grit in there, but he's certainly not as good as some others around at the time. You get the feeling he's trying to sound like former bandmate Robb Flynn, who seems to pull this vocal style off better, though it doesn't really matter when it's the music that matters here and not neccessarily singing skills. Lyrically, the album doesn't fare too badly (possibly because Sean Killian wrote lyrics to nearly half the songs on the album) but as usual with thrash, they're very rarely anything to be inspired by. Some very catchy choruses here, some good lines, but overall nothing too great.
Overall Impression — 9
I only got this record yesterday after seraching for it for the best part of six years, and it's much better than I anticipated. Six years of searching well spent in my opinion, as Torque's record is possibly one of the best I've heard from the mid 90's. It's hardly surprising that the band used all the tracks from their '94 and '95 demos for this record as those songs packed a mean punch and the band has somehow managed to better them on here, resulting in one vicious sounding record. Standouts have to go to "H.L.S", "Again", "Shooter", "Dead You Lay", "Choking", "Will of Stone", "Breed" and "Hand Over Fist". Saying that, pretty much every song on this record has something that you'll find appealing. However, as I stated earlier in the review, the groove elements might find some thrashers feeling rather bored (as we all know what thrash fans think of groove) and some few riffs and vocal 'melodies' do leave something to be desired. Regardless, this album was well worth my time and it's definitely worthy of being hunted down. Try looking for it on Amazon, otherwise just PM me and I can send you some of their demos. You won't be disappointed! "Torque" was released in 1996 on Mascot Records. I've heard of the album being reissued with the band's 1997 demo as bonus tracks, but this remains unconfirmed.