Torche – Admission

On this blog, we’re frequently talking about really dark music. Obviously, we cover black metal and death metal. But there’s also the subgenres like dissonant black metal or brutal death metal. Another heavy hitter is grindcore which can sound equally evil (and personally way tougher than the other genres, but that’s my opinion). It’s not that it’s rare for us to talk about more positive or upbeat music. Nor is it the case that we’re all dour individuals who have a genuinely bleak outlook on life. I mean, we kind of do but it doesn’t COMPLETELY dominate our thoughts. But it’s just rare that metal bands traverse the lighter side of life or explore sounds that aren’t dark and brooding. Blessedly, we do cover Torche.

Miami’s own stoner sludge quartet is back with Admission. Since their previous release, Restarter, guitarist and vocalist Andrew Elstner left the band; bassist Jonathan Nuñez switched to take over guitar duties; and new bassist Eric Hernandez has joined. So some minor lineup changes though the true core of the band is still together. That’s a great sign for longtime fans of the group because they really haven’t changed a whole lot from the last record with the infusion of new blood. The sound hasn’t changed much at all with their gigantic blaring riffs. I found myself checking my headphones multiple times just to make sure there wasn’t some faulty wiring. Which I’d say is an equally good sign.

One thing that has changed is the songwriting. While the big riffs, serious bass, and heavy-duty fuzz is still with us, there has been a maturation in how it’s put all together. There are long moments and passages of more atmospheric sections. Never forget that Torche is nothing is not a good group of space cadets, and it shows. There are long fuzzy chords that are stretched out as the base of a song, allowing you to consume everything else and still having some grounding. As a result of all of that, the songs generally feel more mature and serious than their previous works.

The album cover basically explains the overall sound of the record better than I could here. It is a pretty mind-exploding kind of album that leaves your brain in a smoky haze and hoping you can put the pieces back together. “Slide” shows that. A huge and spacious riff allows the drums to ring out underneath the track and carries you through the verses. Then a very energetic while also spacey chorus kicks in with both a droning fuzz chords played really big and a melodic overtone of tremolo-picked guitar layers with everything underneath. It’s like chowing down on the biggest sandwich you’ve ever seen. Every layer has something to add, and it’s big and delicious. That’s what Admission is: big and tasty riffs that is more than the sum of its parts.

When talking about Admission, it’s really difficult for me to not exclaim, “Holy crap in a bag, is this thing incredible”. It’s an exploration of the lighter side of metal and particularly of sludgier sounds. It’s big riffs covered in a lot of fuzz with a delightful psychedelic presentation. It’s also given to us in a fairly mature songwriting package. There’s really nothing to not like here. Frankly, if you don’t like this record, then we’re not friends and you’re not coming to my birthday party.

Admission is available now via Relapse Records.

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