Torche remain thunderous as ever, continue to mix pop, sludge with psyche-breaking ‘Admission’

Photo by Dan Almasy

It’s probably easy to sit back and rest once you have a body of work that is celebrated and accomplished. I wouldn’t know anything about that. But others don’t know the meaning of the idea of taking it easy and simmering in past success, therefore every new step forward is exciting and explosive.

Torche have kept up their infectious thunder pop since 2004, and each time they come back with a new record, it’s always something toward which we always look forward. Same goes for “Admission,” the band’s fifth full-length record and first since 2015’s “Restarter,” and if you’ve been along for the ride with this band for any duration of their run, you likely know you’re in for some comfort territory but also some surprises. This 11-track, 36-minute album is a fun one, but it also packs plenty of explosives, some of the gnarliest material of their run together. The band—vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks, guitarist Jon Nunez, bassist Andres Ascanio, and drummer Rick Smith—still sounds hungry, as they rip through these songs, leaving your head spinning at times, your heart gushing blood at others as they go for broke with these killers.

Things get off to a fast start with “From Here” that runs by in less than two minutes, coming in burly and heavy, with Brooks wondering, “Where am I to go up from here?” as the melodic sludge carries out. “Submission” punches in with deeper, grittier vocals, riffs spiraling off, and Brooks calls of, “You’re alive,” sending more drubbing down your spine. “Slide” has muddy guitars and a cool, muscular riff with melodies splashing down amid punishment that keeps adding bruising until the song kicks out. “What Was” is fast and punk-fed, a melodic gust that tears through the song and keeps you spinning from one end to the other, leading into “Times Missing” that tramples the earth and everything in front of it. The track has a numbing pace while the vocals float in the air, and then the soloing comes in and burns things down. The track keeps landing blows, releasing a gazey cloud and hanging around until the final deluge comes to an end.

The title track is one hell of a revelatory song, feeling like poppy ’90s shoegaze, wrapped in a helium bow. The track is cracking with emotion, and the catchiness is impossible to shake maybe ever. This is one of Torche’s best songs to date, and don’t be caught off guard by the doomy underbelly. “Reminder” has start-stop riffing, with Brooks wailing, “Cold winds blow me over.” Guitar shine picks up at the end, with the track bleeding out. “Extremes of Consciousness” has riffs driving and the singing boiling, with an infusion of air sent in for good atmospheric measure. Then come two bludgeoning hammers in a row, first with “On the Wire,” a doomy, concrete thick song that is as heavy as anything in their arsenal. “Sit still on the wire,” Brooks howls amid echoing sludge that overwhelms. “Infierno” might be even nastier as guttural filth and clubbing thrashing take over, with Brooks admitting, “I can’t take the heat.” The guitars are buzz saws and sparks fly, leaving everything to burn to the ground. Closer “Changes Come” brings light back as psychedelic crunching emerges, with Brooks noting he’s “flying high but feeling changes coming on.” Noise starts to swallow the body before a glimmering burst pushes through and only then letting everything submit to corrosion.

Torche don’t appear to know the meaning of slowing down, and even after 15 years together, they still have plenty of surprises up their sleeves, which they deliver in spades on “Admission.” This is a record that took a little time to sink in its teeth, but once it did, the songs started to feel as familiar as the tracks that have played repeatedly in my headphones and on my speakers for years. This is a solid piece of work that will keep you guessing from beginning to end, always paying off your intrigue.

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