Restart My Heart: Torche’s Restarter Reviewed

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I’ve written before about the strange things that come from Florida. The bizarre occurrences and crimes, the strange characters that make the cast of Grand Theft Auto appear down to earth and relatable, the old people. Indeed, weird shit is what Florida excels at, and the cream of the strange crop just might be Miami’s own Torche.

Now in case you’re unaware, Torche isn’t just good at making you look like an idiot when you attempt to pronounce their name, they’re also pretty good at merging some crushing sludge with glorious pop sensibilities. If you’ve never listened to Torche you may be scratching your head at that sentiment, but it really does (mostly) work. In fact, it just might work better than ever on Restarter.

One thing that leaps out upon first listen is that the spacey leads of Harmonicraft are fewer and farther between, replaced by bigger grooves and more atmosphere than seen on previous albums. In fact, 4 of Restarter’s 10 tracks crack the 4 minute mark, which is practically unheard of for Torche. It absolutely works, though. Longer songs like “Annihilation Affair” and “Minions” are allowed to stretch their legs and breathe, sinking into some seriously hypnotizing grooves, and in the case of the former, even devolve into a bit of controlled chaos.

That isn’t to say there aren’t some bubblegum pop bangers present. “Bishop in Arms” opens with an upbeat quickness and some oddly wonderful harmonized wailing before settling in on one of the catchiest choruses on the entire album. Other brief cuts like “Loose Men” (what a fantastic title) and “Blasted” sound like they could fit in at any point on Harmonicraft without missing a beat. Certainly not a bad thing.

While a lot of people are big fans of the poppier numbers, I much prefer the mid tempo songs the band produces. The aforementioned songs break into your skull and plant traces of themselves all about before disappearing, the more methodically paced ones entrance and draw you in for an exciting (albeit brief) adventure of sorts. “Believe It” hypnotizes with a catchy lead guitar line and “Barrier Hammer” moves like steamroller guided by the voice of Steve Brooks, and all you can do is stand there and let it run you down. Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my personal favorite track, “Undone.” If you replaced Brooks’ vocals with standard death metal fare, you’d have one of the most destructive tracks of the year. But why would you wanna do that?

That breathing room that I mentioned earlier works very well for the 4 minute cuts on the album, but the title track (and album closer) was perhaps given a bit too much space. There’s a fine line between hypnotizing groove and overly repetitive riffs. “Restarter” begins to grow dull near the 5 minute mark… which means you still have 3 minutes of the same exact thing to look forward to. It’s a disappointing way to end the album, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Of all the words I’ve used to describe this album, one I haven’t used yet is fun, and this album is certainly a lot of that. Even at its most paced moments, Restarter brings an undeniable sense of joy. It’s an album you could toss on at a party and get everybody jamming to. At the end of the day, I think that might be what keeps bringing me back to this album. It doesn’t hurt that Restarter is  Torche’s best album to date, either.

NO FLUSH

Restarter is out February 24th on Relapse. Get it here.

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