Torchbearer – ‘Against The Tide’

By Dave Stewart

Hardcore punk newcomers Torchbearer are ready to set the world alight with their brand new EP ‘Against The Tide’. Formed of ex-members of Blowgoat and Collapse (who previously toured stadiums with Anthrax), they may be at the beginning of their journey, but they have enough passion and fight to direct themselves up the path of success. This EP sees them take their first steps on this path, and while some of those steps are confident and bold, others feel a little shaky.

The EP is comprised of five raucous tracks that do their absolute best to hold your attention for just shy of 20 minutes. And you know what? There is plenty on offer here that’s worth paying attention to. For proof, check out the soaring choruses of lead single ‘Paralysed’, the furious southern riffing of ‘Time Served’ and the pit-worthy breakdowns of ‘Drown’ – all of which reach directly through the speakers in an attempt to grab you by the throat.

The southern-rock, booze fuelled ‘Ascender’ is one of the stand out tracks here, taking you on a drunken and headbang-worthy pilgrimage through a number of dirty, whiskey soaked taverns. The closing moments of the song are loaded with groove and bluesy attitude, guaranteed to get you reaching for the nearest beer. The shining star of the record though is EP closer ‘Torchbearer’. Easily the best structured and ballsiest track on display, it takes you on a sludgy yet majestic tour through all of the bands best traits, showcasing their southern swagger and aggressive tendencies in all their glory.

There is plenty of content worth praising here, but the EP as a whole just feels like it’s lacking something. The riffs have venom and class, the vocals are raw and clear, but they just don’t seem to hit the mark. Some sections don’t feel like they belong, like they’ve been thrown in to make the song a little longer. Others do belong, but lack impact and weight. The sections individually are all great, but the way they flow into one another sounds messy in places. There is so much good material here, and it does provide a decent kick, but the formula just needs a little more tweaking to heighten it’s potency.

This EP should absolutely be viewed as a triumph – a great starting point for a new, up and coming band. There’s tonnes of big riffs, ripping solos, soaring choruses – you name it, they’ve got it and they’re firing it straight at your eardrums. In some places it sounds a bit predictable, sure, and in others it sounds like they’ve stuck in any old riff to fill a gap in a song. That predictability and occasional structural hiccup kills off a lot of the punch that the crystal clear production provides, ever so slightly tainting the promise that this band shows. But, without a doubt, this EP shows a band that are still trying to find out where they fit into their genre, and the energy in the audio shows a band with some fight in them.

With a little more time, Torchbearer could quite easily turn into a southern-tinged hardcore wrecking ball. ‘Against The Tide’ is a sturdy foundation for the South Wales quartet to build upon – tonnes of potential, just not tonnes of power. Not yet, anyway.

DAVE STEWART

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