Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Torchbearer - Dirty Swagger

Torchbearer is band comprised of quite the ex-member list, spanning many New Jersey hardcore bands over the years. These guys seem to have brought it all together to produce some angry hardcore, similar to older bands like Deadguy and Time's Up, while having a bit of a modern swing, similar to bands like Run With the Hunted. Torchbearer's sound and feel leans toward the discordant and unsettling. This is by no means easy listening.

The production quality is quite good and maintains a hard hitting feel while still translating some brightness. Shiny bass mid tones and thick guitars flourish well over the busy drum work. The vocals are distinct and I wouldn't really be able to compare them to anything else. At times they may sound a bit too strained, as if the vocalist is having trouble getting a few last words out, but they never really go over the top. For the most part, the lyrics are coherent and understandable through the yelling, but the stream of consciousness style would probably not illicit any group sing alongs. Lyrically things focus on being very disgusted; disgusted with other people's behaviors, their own behaviors, and the societal landscape in general. Things keep to the abstract, but there's no denying these are some angry words.

"Pearls Before Swine" opens the record up using the "am radio" effect on the guitars to emphasize the power of the band when the song breaks in. The first riff will have your head swaying and they break up the groove with some floaty drums and ringing guitar pretty well. The song comes and goes pretty quick, but gives you a good idea of what the band is about. "Living Disorder" shows the band has an up-tempo side as it kicks in with pounding snare hits and quick guitar runs before returning to the slower bruiting sound. Even faster, "P.S. I'm Banging All of Them" starts with a fast and thrashy feel, before a relentless down tempo mess of aggression slow things down. Later in the record "Hollow" uses the same formula, just as effectively.

As the record moves you get a good mix of all these elements. Songs like "Security Blanket", "9-32" and "Ill Advised" show what the band is all about in terms of their sound and talent.

Two tracks on here break the 4 minute mark, "Stutter Syndrome" and "Decay". The opening guitar riff in "Stutter Syndrome" has a great experimental tone to it and it really stands out as the dueling guitars match up in eerie way. The songs length can attributed to the drawn guitar about halfway through which plots the band to begin a slow and drudging walk to the end. "Decay" draws the majority of it's run time from it's beginning verse/chorus format fronted with some unsettling clean guitar. It's a departure from the band's usual work, and it's good to see them taking some chances here.

I don't think this has been released in physical format yet, but it is available for download and stream. You can listen to it here.

Listen to it here.