The instrumental qualities have not changed much, being Torche’s best asset by a long shot. The guitar lines throughout the record are pretty much all solid aside from the closing track. You can expect a mixtures between incredibly fast sludge metal guitars and slight switches to slower doom rock riffs that will shift the ground a bit at least. The drums are also worth noting, being a major driving force from beginning to end. The mixture between punchy and loud slow beats and faster ones set the tone for each track at a solid rate. The real disappoint with Restarter is the weak vocals. The songs ask for an energetic presence to rile up the mixing, but instead the simplistic and flat vocals are barely audible. This problems leaves most tracks to fend for themselves on the instrumental front, but they too lack an intricate melody at times to keep the fun time moving forward.
Perhaps these problems could be fixed by a grand story being told or an overarching plot that is being divulged, but the mixing makes that story far too cryptic to enjoy. If the vocals are present over top enough, the lyrics feel too fragmented to move anywhere tangible. The worst trait on Restarter is not having a clear vocal presence for most of the tracks though. More than half of the songs let the instrumental overpower the echoed vocal attack, making the song underwhelming as the guitars fall into a groove that it never moves away from. Restarter actually feels like a group of tracks Mastodon might leave off from a long recording session, which yields highly mixed results.
There are some noteworthy elements to the record though. The guitars and drums are truly excellent when the grooves lead somewhere interesting. The opening track has an incredibly catchy instrumental that is hard to forget and “Loose Men” is an incredibly fast and furious song that all metal fans should listen to. One other positive is just how catchy some of the songs can be. Many of the tracks have at least one drum line or guitar section that livens up the song to a slightly palpable level. One might argue catchy and Doom metal should not be mixed together, but Torche do get that part of the equation right.
Restarter is the type of record for fans of Pallbearer. By that statement, it is simply made for fans of doom metal that like the genre played tight to the vest. Torche will not blow anyone away by being incredibly fresh or original, but most people will have a fun time listening to Restarter. Coming from a band that is more worried about liking the music they release than pleasing their fans, Torche is probably okay with that.
1. Annihilation Affair
2. Bishop In Arms
4. Loose Men
7. No Servants
8. Believe It
9. Barrier Hammer