Talk about over-egging a promotional pudding. There’s been a retro Torche vs Robots computer game thrown out into the public domain and enough single tracks released to tease a brick into submission. Having been drip-fed all that, to the verge of saturation, it is a delight to finally understand how the tracks flow as a complete set.
In fact, the interconnectedness of Restarter actually surpasses even that of their wraparound 2012 release, Harmonicraft. What shocks is how each track impacts like a pressure wave leaving the ears ringing and a metallic taste on the tongue. The band have clearly drifted back to the heft of their early releases with tracks like "Annihilation Affair" and "Undone" piling discord onto discontent. Yet what continues to impress above all is the intense production levels. With bassist Jonathan Nuñez twiddling the knobs and Kurt Ballou mixing they have once more managed to blend a range of dynamics into what is essentially a wall of sludge, and yet retained the heart-warming crisp edges that so mark out the clean vocal harmonics. It allows the band, even here in this crushing vortex of an album, to retain an element of accessibility.
The end result is tracks like "Minions". It is what Gary Numan would have created if he'd been given a jackhammer to operate instead of a synthesizer. Here, above the burn and the crushing mountain of guitar fuzz it pings with an effervescent quality that reaches into your chest and shakes your very core.
What is missing here though is a range and variety of tones. Their last release marked out by light and dark shading was still driven beneath by the riffage but came littered throughout with layers of popping, addictive hooks. Restarter, instead, returns to the shadows utilising changes in tempo alone to dig out almighty furrows. The band stave off temptation to stray into key changes in favour of creating a subtly-morphing, hypnotic drone. The result is levels of all-encompassing power that border on the obscene.
There's the agonizingly elephantine bludgeoning of the paired "Believe It" and "Barrier Hammer". Rumbling like the sundering of the Earth; loud enough to extinguish the vocals and break your resistance. If those two don't convince you of the album's extreme metal credentials then the wall of feedback agony that opens "No Servants" will. Yet more proof of Restarter's far from hidden agenda.
Fans of the upbeat, should check out "Loose Ends" and "Blaster" which can be glimpsed as breaks through anvil-shaped clouds. Here the short clipped sentences contain lyrics that almost sound like poems. To attempt to decipher them though is to fry your mind. Take "Blaster"s opening lines as an example - "At last gold, He is bilingual, Lick lips and lusting cars, Six pack, Cold, Built strong and legal, This sound attack travels". Bonkers.
Probably most impressive of all Torche's feats with this album is their determined return to basics and you won't find anything more simple than the album-closing title-track. It fires out a three-chord riff, loads it with a singular driving beat and warbling rotational strings, then milks every last ounce of it for eight and a half minutes until the song becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Essentially, though, there is a price to be paid for this desperate attempt to claw their way from the mainstream. As single releases each track works but bring them together and you'll realise the casualty here is the album itself. In a live arena the sinister power that Restarter wields will thrill, but as a static piece it's dense beyond reason. The marketing might grab you, you might even buy it and like it, but you won't cherish it.