Review Summary: After 5 years, Torch finally manages to release their long awaited second album “A New Beginning” which was meant to be released in 2009. This is indeed a great record, but it’s clear that this is no longer the band we knew in 2006.
I guess introduction will be in place seeing how I believe only a handful of people on Sputnik have ever heard of the band called Torch. And no, I am not talking about the hideous German rapper with the same name. No, Torch is a hardcore/metal band from Trondheim, Norway. They were formed in 1999 and released their debut EP “Visions of…” in 2003. In 2006 they released their debut album “Death to Perfection”. The album was successful in Norway and helped the band tour both national and international. The band planned to release their follow up album “A New Beginning” in 2009, but it was postponed several times until it finally was released in 2011.
Now onto the review of their second album ”A New Beginning”:
Their debut album was a thrill, the best album ever released by an Norwegian band in my honest opinion. Surpassing bands like both Dimmu Borgir and Kvelertak, if I might be so bold. It was fast, catchy and captured what is commonly known as “Tromsø Hardcore”. Hardcore played by Norwegian bands, most of them origin from Tromsø. A New Beginning however, isn’t anything like their debut. It’s a completely new recipe. It’s like comparing lasagna to pizza. In the beginning, Torch played nu metal, then hardcore, and now metalcore, might sound to some like early Killswitch Engage. They used to blend hardcore with emo and post hardcore, now they’ve thrown most of their former sound away and moved towards a much more harsh and heavy sound. Torch has grown up and are no longer playing music to appeal to a larger music group. They are doing their thing, and couldn’t care less if you don’t like it.
So do I like the change? Yes, the metalcore sound fits the band quite well, and as musicians every single member of the band has improved a whole lot. Credit should be given where credit is due, and “A New Beginning” is an astonishing second album; it’s blistering, it’s groovy, it’s angry and it’s more mature. But did I want this? No, if anything I was hoping for the follow up to “Death to Perfection”, one of my all-time favorite albums. If only the band had released an album between 2006 and 2011 that sounded like their former self, this album would have been welcomed to my collection with open arms. Of course, after 5 years people change, so I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.
That’s something we truly can say about this band, after 5 years they have all grown enormously as musicians. The bands guitar players Jørgen Spørsheim and Berg Ola Pettersen are much more present than before. Their guitars are loud and play a huge role in the albums overall sound. Songs like “Cause of Death” and “Creamed Cheese & Ritalins” are tracks where their impressive guitar capabilities shine through. Drummer Thomas Farstad is as much an important piece of the band as always and thrashes through the whole album without breaking a sweat, listen to the opening track “Phase Reverse” to hear him at his best. Bassist Tommy Kvieset is unfortunately the weakest link in the band. The bass is barely hearable and is nothing but standard. Every band member besides Kvieset provides backing vocals.
On “Death to Perfection” the vocals were what made the album such a good album, fortunately for Torch, they no longer rely on Marius Forbord to deliver most of the goods. This album is indeed only as good as it is because of the band as a whole. They all deliver their fair share, although Marius is an outstanding vocalist whom also has only grown in technique and quality screaming and singing since “Death to Perfection”. He is more aggressive and brutal than ever before, and the clean vocals have been decreased drastically.
This is a heavy and angry album, but that’s not to say that there are no tracks that sound familiar. It sure doesn’t sound like “Death to Perfection” but songs like ”Wake Me When It’s Over” and “Dream and Escape Pods” share similarities with what was found on their debut, and might just be what remains of their former sound.
With that said, the title fits the album perfectly. “A New Beginning” is truly a new beginning for the Norwegian hardcore band. After 5 years, Torch finally manages to release their long awaited second album. This is indeed a great record, but it’s clear that this is no longer the band we knew in 2006.
“Phase Reverse”, “Wake Me When It’s Over” & “Dreams And Escape Pods”