July 10, 2019 Torche – Admission (Album Review)
Heavy Metal stalwarts Torche are set to release Admission, their first record in over four years, on Friday, July 12th through Relapse Records.
Looking back to where it all began, the band was formed in 2005 by Guitarists Steve Brooks and Juan Montoya – both veterans of Miami sludge outfit Floor. The pair were joined by Drummer Rick Smith and Bassist Jonathan Nuñez, with Brooks assuming vocal duties here as he had with Floor. Quickly released a self-titled debut that same year, followed by Meanderthal in 2008, Montoya left soon thereafter, and the band continued as a three-piece, peppering their catalog with various EPs and splits until the addition of Andrew Elstner in 2011, after which they recorded Harmonicraft a year later and Restarter in 2015.
Since then, Elstner himself left in 2017, at which point Nuñez switched to guitar, making room for longtime collaborator Eric Hernandez to officially join on bass. Which leads us to present day where Admission was recorded, mixed, produced by Nuñez, building on work he head done behind the knobs for Restarter. Despite the band members being split between Miami and Los Angeles, the refreshed quartet managed to double the amount of writing and recording time that had been spent on Restarter, improving a rushed experience that Nuñez describes as “a little stressful.”
Eight songs in total, opener “From Here” is a dense, drum-infused track that touches down in under two minutes. The disjointed rhythms and mixture of Pop flightiness and sludgy Doom that pays the bills for Torche is on immediate display here, rounded out by the disembodied vocals of Brooks. Later, “What Was” has a similarly short fuse, clattering by with a vibe reminiscent of the New Misfits, though just as forgettable.
Then there is “Times Missing” which is a broad, expansive track that drifts far away into the fertile Pop-Psychedelia realms forged by early Jane’s Addiction. The lush instrumental periods of the track are some of the best work on this album, which is an interesting dichotomy for a band known as much for the ardor of its vocals as well as its instrumental prowess. This is as a song such as “Slide” instead delivers on the expected promise of Torche: thick, powerful sludge kept in check by clean slices of rhythm guitar, with Brooks adding just the right amounts of staccato vocals and long, drawn-out syllables.
The title-track deftly mixes the hot and cold nature of its two lead guitar tones. Opening with a biting, airy riff that is ably backed by a sludgy rhythm line, it is one which quickly arises to equal footing and spends the rest of the track alternating intensity with its older sibling. Furthermore, “Submission” relies on a similar back-and-forth, as does “Reminder,” though the lighter halves of each bargain fall a bit short; the latter song here is the first glimpse into the second half of the album.
Moving on, “Extremes of Consciousness” is one of final highlights of the album. Indeed, through the sludge of “On the Wire” and “Infierno,” the album loses its steam considerably over the last few tracks, to the point where closing track “Changes Come” is a warm saccharine break from the monotony. As with a few of its predecessors, “Changes Come” lacks significant vocals, replaced by lush organic orchestrations that almost manage to bring the album back to respectability.
Overall, Admission packs a handful of strong tracks and a larger pile of strong ideas, ones which were not fully percolated before being put to tape. The earlier half of the album is held up by impressive work like “Submission,” “Slide,” and the title-track, while the later songs lose their momentum and ultimately lose their way. Perhaps if a few of them had been interwoven with each other, the stark heavy/pop contrast Torche are known for would have been more evident. Instead, listeners are left with a decent collection of tracks, but the misses will leave ears hungry for more. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Admission 3 out of 5 stars.