Review Summary: Here comes the fuzz.“People are always trying to figure out which compartment we fit into. They wanna put us on a shelf. But in a world of Sabbaths, we get to be Van Halen.”
For a band that has built its foundations on filthy, dense Sabbathian riffs, you can see why one would categorize and trace the bulk of their DNA back to Black Sabbath. In preparation for Admission
, I went back through all of their discography again; and it’s overtly apparent that the encrusted stoner-sludge is, and always has been, a superficial distraction that sits over their obsessive pop sensibilities – predating as far back as 2005’s Torche
. The Kyuss-meets-Mastodon cacophony with ride-out grooves is an enticing assault, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice to notice that, yet foolishly disregard the fine gossamer vocals that sit delicately under the impenetrable soundscapes each album dishes out. To put it bluntly, Harmonicraft
is the perfected transition that finally melded stonking riffs and pop hooks with a finality; a display of well-rounded evolution that looked like the end of the road for this type of progressive growth. As such, Harmonicraft
stands as Torche’s magnum opus: an exhilarating masterclass in sludge-meets-pop. Which is why, despite Restarter
being a fairly solid offering, their 2015 return felt like such a weary, anticlimactic return – an album with a certified plateau. The only thing Restarter
truly displayed to its audience was a limited imagination, ham-fistedly using previous achievements as a safety blanket, with varying soporific effects. So, with a 4-year radio silence sat on a dampened note, Admission
comes as a bit of a surprise, not only for being superior to Restarter
in almost every aspect, but because it feels like it has more of a purpose this time around.
is best summed up as mature. There’s nothing particularly new to unearth here, but where this album succeeds over its predecessor is it takes the band’s strongest attributes and develops a more concise project out of them: filled to the brim with booming riffs, heaving grooves and a really cohesive tone throughout. Bar the occasionally sluggish (in the wrong way) moment found on “Times Missing” and “On the Wire” – which falls ill to knuckle-dragging repetition and few attention-grabbing moments to lock you in – Admission
sits comfortably at full throttle and rarely wastes a moment of your time. “Infierno” stands tall as one of the heaviest numbers they’ve ever pieced together, having the fuzz cranked so high it literally sounds like buildings being demolished over Torche’s drowning ethereal guitar passages. The tremolo picking, cut-the-bollocks opener right through to “Times Missing” are scintillating conquests of pounding rhythms and alt-metal riffs that end up eradicating even the faintest bit of doubt you had leading up to this album's release. Sure, in a way, this album sounds more like a rerun through former glories – stripping most of Harmonicraft
’s distinct characteristics away for a doomier, rock-dominated experience – but they really hit a home run with the execution, and it becomes relatively fresh sounding because of this.
There’s little to fault here in all honesty; it plays everything right and does so with a near flawless execution. Though one could argue it’s a little one-dimensional in terms of almost exclusively working with one style, as I said earlier, it nails the way these songs are presented. Putting the grimy instrumentals to one side, Admission
is not devoid of some of Brooks' best vocal performances, either. The honey sweet melodies on “Admission”, “Reminder” and “Changes Come” continue to synergistically partner with the guitar’s melancholic delay, and proceeds to imbue Torche’s distinction from the rest of the bands out there today. This is an excellent return to form that should please current fans, but I wouldn’t argue with it being a great place to start for first-time listeners of the band as well.
PACKAGING: Standard jewel case, with promotional slip.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.torchemusic.com/