I just re-read my review of Torche’s 2012 release, Harmonicraft. It was basically as I remembered it: almost five clowns and pretty much awesome top to bottom. What I didn’t remember is why I held back that last half-clown. In addition to the sound not being quite big enough, which garners a quizzical glance from me now, I mentioned that the tracks were a bit samey and there were only two types of songs: fast and slow.
But that last part explains a lot about Restarter, its follow-up, because the sameiness here makes Harmonicraft look like The White Album. And, while there are still only two tempi, fast and slow, the difference between the two is much smaller.
I think what really kills this album is the production. With every song produced exactly the same, with fuzzed out rhythm guitars, bass, and drums dominating, and the lead guitar and vocals way back in the mix, it prevents you from picking up on the lyrics or melodies that would differentiate one onslaught of fuzzy booms from another. So over the album’s 38 minutes, there’s just not enough to grab on to to mark your position in the album.
I mean, I like 10 of the 12 songs here, and one of the ones I don’t like is one of the two bonus tracks from the deluxe version. So taken individually, these songs are good. But they don’t get far beyond that quality, and they’re an awful lot like each other.
The one new thing they do here that I like is that they spend some time kind of pummeling you with repeated, abrasive, amelodic frequencies. I’m thinking of the brutal end to “Annihilation Affair,” the air raid open to “No Servants,” and the triumphant end to (non-deluxe) album closer, “Restarter.” Adding that kind of treat on to what they’d built with Harmonicraft would have been a wonderful, if incremental, step forward. This production is a bold statement, but it’s very limiting.
Finally, four of the ten songs from the non-deluxe album start with “B”. So there’s that.
Really Like: “Blasted,” “Restarter”
Like: “Annihilation Affair,” “Bishop In Arms, “Minions,” “Loose Men,” “Undone,” “No Servants,” “Believe It,” “Harmonslaught”
Meh: “Barrier Hammer,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Mantasy”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Annihilation Affair – satisfying opening. You feel like you’re in for a good run here, coming from Harmonicraft.
- Bishop In Arms –
- Minions –
- Loose Men – more upbeat. shortish. nice solo
- Undone – even shorter. cool rhythms
- No Servants –
- Believe It
- Barrier Hammer
- Restarter – 8:40
- Rock ‘N’ Roll Mantasy – gets meh despite the lyrics (“I really like it”)