Friday, 12 December 2014

Torch Runner - Endless Nothing (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 20/09/2014
Label: Southern Lord

‘Endless Nothing’ CD/DD/LP track list

1). Attrition
2). Bound By Misery
3). Congregation
4). Circuition
5). Godlust
6). Rebirth
7). Calloused Mind
8). Circle Of Shit
9). Wordless
10). Endless Nothing
11). A.L.E.L
12). All We Have
13). Unspoken


Grindcore is probably the most extreme music around. To the uninitiated it (not unreasonably) sounds like noise, (although that’s kind of the point), with themes ranging from political agenda to, well, killing people and being outright offensive for the sake of it. It is also the genre that gave us the blast beat and shocked everyone when it first emerged 30 years ago advocating speed and distortion above pretty much all else. Over time it has of course evolved and is one of the most critically respected of extreme subgenres, with bands such as Nasum and Rotten Sound being regarded as superstars in their native Sweden and Finland respectively and genre originators Napalm Death still commanding acclaim for each release.

“Endless Nothing” is Torch Runners second LP for Southern Lord following 2012’s “Committed to the ground” and delivers the all out livid rage you would hope for and expect. The music tends to range from the atypical blasts to sinister riffs for which the term “malignant” was surely created, to stamping chunks of heaviness which aim to liquidate your balls.

Opener “Attrition” immediately employs the aforementioned malignancy, making you want to hide from the stereo before going utterly crazy in a wall of blasts. From then on this is pretty typical of the album as a whole. There is a hanging sense of despair in much of the sound – the breaks in speed feel like you’re waiting to be hit by a train rather than taken away from the impact.  There is some straightforward rock riffs to get you onside if the blasting starts to grate as seen at the closing of “Congregation”

The majority of the albums’ songs are no longer than two minutes, blasting away whilst the sludge sections prove a merciful distraction and a bit of a relative respite from the carnage. One exception, “Rebirth” measures a whole 2 minutes 40 seconds, relying on hefty sludge riffing and a generally woeful air. The same can be said for the end of “Calloused mind” with an almost Morbid Angel style riff and some horrific screeching guitar effects to emphasise the point.

There is a tendency to follow a lot of the grind template of raging blasts into  grooves section – although there is some variety; “Bound by misery” could almost be Will Haven in parts, and by the time  “Circle of shit” ( pretty much a prog rock track at 4 minutes 21 seconds) lumbers into view it provides some truly uncomfortable listening with vocals literally drowning under the feedback and production generally mixed to all out distortion resulting in being thoroughly unpleasant which, of course is why you go to bands such as Torch Runner in the first place. Other comparisons have been drawn to bands such as Enabler and Nails and whilst I feel they are more at the absolute grind end of the spectrum they are pushing the current sound rather than insisting on being purist and only taking influence from side A of Napalm Death’s ‘Scum’.

The vocals are utterly pissed off and generally wretched, and although not necessarily original “Endless Nothing” is convincing enough to be worth your time. There’s no room for free form Jazz soloing or experimentation but then that’s not what this music is designed for. What it does do is provide absolute noise, vitriol and spiteful brutality. If you’re into this kind of thing it does exactly what you want it to. Only 22 minutes long it’s something you survive more than enjoy. Let’s hope there’s more.

FFO: Pig Destroyer, Nails, Nasum, Eyehategod

Words by: Chris Wilson

You can pick up a copy here and in Europe here

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