There is nasty, there is vicious, and then there is Torch Runner, a band where sonic violence is seemingly an instinct which just has to be expelled and in the most striking and invigorating way going by debut album Committed To The Ground. Hailing from Greenboro, N. Carolina, the trio of vocalist/bassist Rob Turner, guitarist Scott Hughes, and drummer Josh Platt is an aural pestilence which gets into every bone, synapse, and emotion to splinter, wither, and savage respectively. Committed To The Ground was first released to strong acclaim in 2012 on vinyl only but their recent signing with Southern Lord ahead of a brand new encounter in the Autumn, has opened up a new worldwide CD release for the band’s startling debut. This enables all of us who missed out the first time around to have our senses and bodies violated in a manner they are definitely not but could easily become accustomed to.
Torch Runner and their ferocious brew of hardcore, metal, and dirt clad punk caught attention initially with a nine-track EP at the beginning of 2010. Locust Swarm shook the underground scene and instantly pulled an eager focus upon the band which a split with Young And In The Way the following year added more energy and urgency to. As mentioned 2012 was the initial launch of Committed To The Ground, a bruising malicious onslaught which thrust the band into another intensive spotlight. Ahead of the new album the band recorded with Kris Hilbert, it sends out a timely reminder and introduction to fans and newcomers to ignite their anticipation for a new fury you can be sure will be as pleasingly vitriolic and damaging.
Everything about the album from its opening second to the intrusive last is agreeably toxic, its veins running wild with a venom which spews destruction physically and mentally against seemingly everything, be it religion or society. Opening track Current simply goes for the jugular from its first breath, the visceral roar of Turner savaging ear and air as his bass equally imposes a heavy lure whilst the guitar of Hughes scars and cremates the senses with pure animosity. Spearing and entangling all of this is the breakneck attack of Platt whose skills and physical malice makes a tsunami look weak. Forty five seconds long, representative of the album which delivers twelve torrents in less than twenty three minutes, the track provides more thrilling devastation and crippling intensity in its grind/crust fused ravaging than hordes of releases can do across their whole body.
The impressive start is soon kicked up a gear in spite and enticement by firstly the hellish unbridled attack of Incendiary and the following corrosive tempest that is Feeding where grooves and rhythms represent the title by ripping apart and feasting on senses and psyche with vicious jaws of sound and might. The pair is in turn then exceeded by the outstanding Canon Cast which emerges from instantly intimidating sonic smog with venomous grooves and blistering riffs which converge together for a predatory prowl directed by the increasingly raw scowling tones of Turner. All the while the guitar winds cruel temptation around the imagination, unleashing grooves which just as purposefully stalk mind and emotions.
Clocked In follows suit, blending in a rapacious dark stealth with untethered hostility as it crawls over the senses snarling and ripping slices from their defences. Its climax expels an acidic flume of enterprise but it is the heavily brooding basslines and rabidity driving guitar and drums which sculpts another prominent highlight on the album, one matched by the excellent title track. Its haunting stark opening premise is soon the canvas for a lumbering bestial bass scourge to roam, its threat then enclosed in a sonic fog. Holding the thick substance of sludge and heavy noxious darkness of doom, the track spreads like poison through pores and psyche, its lumbering malignancy defined further by swathes of guitar contempt and vocal rancor. It is a riveting despoiling, one that has you mesmerised whilst it rips out your soul.
The torrential sonic maiming of Rede and similarly ruinous assault of Harrow keep senses cowering and thoughts fascinated, both equipped with short grooves and rhythmic enticements which again tempt as they decimate whilst the transfixing The Holy Are Broken in similar vein to the title track, brews a cancerous consumption of heavy invasive flavourings into a unrelenting laboured march which simply ignites the imagination and appetite for more of their slow and erosive invention. The main and only fault of the album is that with the majority of tracks so short and intent on causing the most violent results quickly, many never have time to show something unique which makes them blend together without distinguishing elements no matter how good they are, as evidenced by the final three songs. When like their predecessor the band takes a premeditated slow stalking as the core, tracks leap out to a new plateau, something hopefully the new album will show more of.
The threesome of Tolled, Pulpit Plague, and Vestige are ferocious treats to end the album, even with that just mentioned element, the first of the trio especially incendiary to the passions with its vitriol swinging gleefully from guitar scrubs and rhythmic spite.
We like a great many are newcomers to Torch Runner and now have a greedy anticipation for their new release thanks to Southern Lord and the reprise of Committed To The Ground. If a mix of Napalm Death, Weekend Nachos, and Kunz sounds tasty, then this is a band and release for you.
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