Torche Gets Back Into Its Heavy Groove With Restarter

Photo courtesy of Torche

For just about a decade now, Torche has more or less locked down the dubious title of World's Heaviest Band. Hard to blame it, really. Torche is its own trip. The proudly down-tuned outfit packs the same percussive wallop as sludge titans Mastodon and Neurosis, sure, but it also finds room for the pop songcraft and melodic vocals of heavier alternative acts like Nirvana and Failure. Though thoroughly crushing, the band's music defiantly retains a sunnier disposition and a lot more heart than that some of its hairier contemporaries.

That dichotomy has never played better than on Torche's new album, Restarter. After the upbeat and tightly choreographed Harmonicraft raised the band's profile outside of the heavy-rock underground three years ago, Torche has returned with a darker and more wizened product. It's the group's most well-rounded effort yet, wedding a weighty crunch to its poppier sensibilities.

It's the kind of record that requires a good subwoofer or a great set of headphones to properly enjoy -- particularly when it comes to the rich, fuzzy tone of bassist Jon Nunez. The ten tracks of Restarter have a jammy, lived-in feel, though the songs were hashed out rather quickly in the studio.

"We're generally pressed for time because none of us live in the same place," the bassist says. "So when we get together, we typically have seven to ten days to write as much as we can, and then we leave on a tour, or everyone goes back home to reconvene at another time. This record was written in about two and a half weeks. It's definitely the fastest-put-together record we've ever done."

The members of Torche were mindful that they'd be playing these tunes while on tour for at least the next couple of years, and so the elements that have given the band its crossover appeal are intact, from the thunderous High On Fire roar of "Barrier Hammer" to the soaring, Jimmy Eat World vocals on "Loose Men." Predictably, Nunez can't wait to show them off.

"The majority of this stuff is definitely a bit slower, heavier, darker -- especially compared to Harmonicraft," he says. "There are certain songs that you look forward to doing live, whether it's the heavy one or the slightly more upbeat one. Personally, the ones I'd have to say I'm most excited about right now would be 'Annihilation Affair' and 'Loose Men.' But I'm looking forward to playing all of them. It's a brand-new, fresh record!"

Restarter sees Torche trying out some new ideas, such as trusting Nunez with production duties. While the album was mixed by in-demand knob-twiddler Kurt Ballou, the bulk of the album was recorded and produced at Nunez's home studio in Miami. Though the production credit might be a new look for the bassist, it's hardly the first time he has taken an active role in reproducing the group's sound on wax.

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