Bubblegum pop. 90s influenced grunge. Matt Pike giving birth to a doom-sludge hybrid demon. Shoegazing. If you were to blend all those musical styles together meticulously, you most likely end up with a revolting, puke-inducing album. In other cases, you get kickass music courtesy of the dudes from Torche.
Torche seems to relish subverting expectations and crafting their own unique sound. They have also become accustomed to throwing curveballs and drastically oscillating between heavy pop-rock to sludge metal infused with doom. Imagine taking to a psychedelic journey to a dark forest to be part of a satanic ritual led by a thousand-year-old sorcerer… with happy-go-lucky unicorn-monster hybrids flailing about. That’s the best way to describe Torche because you have no idea what to expect, but you’re enjoying the ride anyway. Enter Admission, Torche’s first full-length recording in four years. While Admission does have an eclectic sound from start to finish, the album’s production is excellent and far more consistent than their previous efforts.
Admission starts off with a powerful sonic assault to the senses with the leading track, “From Here.” Torche wastes no time immersing listeners into the album by metaphorically launching a barrage of meaty riffs and beating you into submission. Admission builds on the menacing heaviness introduced in Restarter (2015) and is full of down-tuned riffs sludge metal and stoner rock fans have come to love. Steve Brooks, the enigmatic frontman and guitarist, complements the unrelenting ferocity and euphonious interludes throughout the album with vocals that have become a lot more consistent over the years.
The tracks “From Here” and “What Was” pick up the pace and get metalheads and music aficionados alike moving more than the lead characters from Footloose. Meanwhile, the influence of the more mellow shoegaze style is readily apparent at other times throughout the album, such as the title track. “Admission” kicks off with a somewhat melancholic yet poppy intro reminiscent of notable shoegaze and noise rock acts (My Bloody Valentine came to mind immediately). Other songs, such as “Times Missing” and “On the Wire,” fuse a more mellow variant of doom metal with stoner rock, creating a harmonious blend of music that drones on and on.
From start to finish, Admission exhibits the signature sound of Torche, which has been carefully refined over the last 10 years. Dealing with a rather tumultuous lineup change after the departure (read: forced removal) of guitarist Andrew Elstner, the refreshed quartet now sports new bassist, Eric Hernandez. Referred to as an eclectic mix of sludge metal and bubblegum pop-metal, Torche’s musicianship and capability are on display throughout the entire record. All good things come to an end, however, and so does the album with the final track, “Changes Come.” The uniquely crafted blend of heavy metal and melodic pop-rock is on full display here, providing an ultimate delight to listeners before wrapping up the album.
I might be a tad biased when I state that Admission is the band’s most consistent record to date, despite being a bit stagnant in the middle. While Harmonicraft (2012) remains my personal favourite, the band’s earlier albums were raw and lacked a cohesive direction. Admission, on the other hand, fully exhibits the Torche’s maturity over the years, separating themselves from being lost in the shuffle and creating a very distinct style. Just like fellow sludge-turned-progressive bands Mastodon and Baroness, Torche has evolved beyond being pigeonholed into one style and continues to impress.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
*edited by Danielle Kenedy