There is a multitude of bands that I read about on a daily basis that I somehow manage to never sit and listen to. Torche was one of those bands, and I was definitely one of those who mispronounced the band's name as "Tore-Shay". Those days are long gone however, as I have spent plenty of time with the band's newest LP, Restarter. How I finally managed to sit and listen to this record was not because of my curiosity regarding Torche, but the man who mixed the album. I've said it in plenty of reviews, but I am a sucker for Kurt Ballou and his production/mixing. I record and mix bands, and I am admittedly a bit of a fanboy when it comes to any record he puts his hands on. While Ballou is the reason I sat and gave this record a chance, it's easily one of my favorites this year for other reasons.

I was totally taken aback by the shear heaviness and concentrated low end of album opener, "Annihilation Affair". The band essentially drones on the same riff for the first half of the song, before breaking into a heavy buildup that's riddled with guitar feedback and crushing floor tom hits. I love the thickness and cutting tone of the bass guitar, and the fact that it outshines the guitars at various points on the album. The vocals of guitarists Steve Brooks and Andrew Elstner are melodic yet gruff at times, their harmonies soaring above the heavy wall of guitars. I liken the vocal stylings to a crazy combination of Mastodon, Young Widows, and Queens Of The Stone Age. I enjoy how the album doesn't rely on complex songwriting and twists and turns, but rather a simple focus on guitar riffs.

There are sludgy and slow jammers like "Minions", "No Servants", "Believe It", and "Barrier Hammer", the latter of which is definitely my favorite track on the album. A slow burning and sludgy riff descends into a dissonant wall of guitars sprinkled with a couple of intelligent notes. The cymbals and down tuned guitars almost drown out the mix at points. Those listeners without a subwoofer will certainly feel like they have one while listening to Restarter. Upper tempo tracks like "Loose Men", "Undone" and "Blasted" are a nice contrast to the aforementioned tracks that help break up the monotony common with other albums in the genre. Album closer and title track "Restarter" is a close to 9 minute epic that chugs along consistently, while ambience increases as well as a dizzying guitar lead that segues into a washy wall of noise.

Fans of sludge metal or stoner rock should definitely check this album out. Longtime fans of Torche will definitely be satisfied, as well as newcomers like myself that have now delved into the band's back catalog. Restarter is available now via Relapse Records, I suggest the Green/Purple mixed LP that I purchased direct from the bandcamp page. Stream "Annihilation Affair" below, and let it have the same impression on you that it did for me: