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Some fire raisers in the company of sparklers - 83%

Gutterscream, July 25th, 2013

“…and if you try I’ll lean into the flames and die…”

Like Jaguar, Torch were one of the more blasted of the pre-‘84 brigade, one who lit their namesake and bravely bull-rushed the invisible boundaries of the early ‘80s with metal that was noticeably heavier, faster, denser, and headbanged with less ‘70s outmoded keyboards and cheesy mustaches. Well, somebody had to, ‘cause not Krokus, Vardis, The Rods, either Fist, not one Killer, nor dozens upon dozens of others seemed too willing to lose the stupid rocks and pick up something heavy and made a’ metal to hack through the limp, lame, and lackluster to the next era regardless of how unclear and/or unfounded it seemed.

Because bands of this time period were actually able to distinguish the throttle from the cigarette lighter, many infectious, well-jointed, and memorable tunes were written, and while the majority wore the accepted traditional metal uniform (most with a nwobhm monogram), there were a few who toiled for extra credit, that need for enrichment beyond the class prospectus, with full awareness that it may be dismissed as…? Unnecessary? Overambitious? Too radical? Well, if history has taught humanity anything, it’s that most things don’t progress by playing it safe, and with their debut foray into metaldom, this quintet show us how to drive fast and take chances on Sweden’s highways by igniting blast powder-filled potholes with decorous, weaving maneuvers executed by a not-so-young sounding band. In fact, three of these five tracks have muscle that could outlift I’d say around 85-90% of the metal that had been recorded and was kickin’ back in stores by the time this ep snuggled into its first record rack.

Torch go about it more craftily than that, however, and rather than immediately breaking the storm open over your head with a seasoned rager, “Beyond”, the first to obligingly kneelift its way through the door here, is instead tempered by many natures, like a wolf wearing a stag’s rack of multi-colored hides – kinda subdued and spaciously-paced light browns and tans, heavier duty navy and cobalt blues and stone ground charcoal grays, and hot quick to the punch whites and double bass-beaten reds – acting more as an introduction to their scent of ranged songwriting and doubles as a middle-of-the-road show starter. Favoring “Beyond”’s rising redness is “Fire Raiser”, a continuous bolt of scarlet energy that elucidates the logo and bloody salivation bubbling on the album’s jacket. Alternatively, “Pain” is groomed with softer hands, touched with a power ballad’s grace of the psychological over the physical while dual solos side with the soothed, but as the end nears this serenity falls to restlessness and is bodily kicked awake by prompt two-footed drum work and solos that are now serrated.

Along with the fire-raised title cut, side two’s “Mercenary” and “Retribution” are the meat n’ potato mashers almost guaranteeing Torch’s survival on the heavier-than-thou side of ’82’s tracks. “Mercenary”’s lean and fair-haired chug riles “Retribution” to life, a bloodshot monster that rebelliously whips out a tightly-wound, yet off-kilter main riff that bludgeons most structural rationale into furious paste. The song’s ground quakes under this, yet its tectonic plates are somehow made shatterproof by a violently spiraling, relentlessly battered, and unyieldingly intense percussive vortex unleashed by Steve Streaker. Breath is replenished when the creature stops to speak of its next rhythmic rampage, but even this is lacerated further by electrically-slicing solos from Chris Firscht and Claus Wild. A genuine power broker.

Dan Dark, while discounting his out-of-element attempt at setting the calm in “Pain”, is a decently received roughneck tenor who only occasionally investigates the contralto realm, yet will do so more as well as climb the lower soprano mountains on next year’s self-titled full-lengther.

Even though they were still a mere ankle pimple on the scene’s leg, this reddish pockmark caused discomfort and even inflicted some pain on metal’s known obtuse limits, commercial or otherwise, and a lot of that ache had to do with “Retribution”, a beast that could easily bend the bar with the rest of the heavies on next year’s follow-up. Light another torch, guys. It’s the only way to get noticed.

Razor Ov'de Fire Torch! - 78%

Danthrax_Nasty, September 12th, 2005

Well firstly, the cover doesn't quite fit the title. The band have a cool look, but it was very much a standard look then (although the super cheesy electric chair is definitely cool). The song titles are a bit cliche (or just didn't have a whole lot of creativity put into them, but hey these were guys from Sweden writing in English, so maybe that was a factor), and with all due respect there's just nothing here, musically or otherwise, that has that "it" factor (which you gotta remember made a lot of fucking bands in the '80s...think of the L.A. scene in the early days if you don't get me. Some of those fuckers were on fire with "it").

So basically, these are good tunes with well-sung, mid-ranged vocals and some nice falsettos to boot. The singer's voice reminds me of a less-talented Rob Halford mixed with some Udo (of Accept). As for the rest of the band, they really don't establish themselves as powerfully original individuals or strikingly unique in many ways, so my best offer is to expect the ordinary and you will not be disappointed.

Musically it's your standard fare for the genre. It's based off of the NWOBHM sound, that hard-rocking thrashy feel with a drenching of sleaze and an overall to-the-limit melodic epicness which shines through even in the shortest of these songs. Traditional metal is probably never been so fitting a title, for truly nothing else is needed to be said. So in summary, what you'll get here is exactly what you'll want if you're into NWOBHM and heavy metal in general. It's just that what's here is good, even great great by some accounts, but lacking that certain "it" quality. It's almost nondescript. It's heavy metal with out a doubt, but lacks in various ways those further defining features which play a major role, and it's really short, so that kinda hurts it a bit, too. But am I by no means saying this music isn't good, just not one to write home about, if you get my drift.

Overall, if you live for the NWOBHM sound, then I couldn't imagine why you wouldn't enjoy this, but just remember that your collection may necessitate many albums before this one, and this one's got my bite of approval.

Classic metal from Sweden! - 84%

PowerMetalGuardian, September 15th, 2004

Torch, an all Sweden heavy metal band, showed us what heavy metal was. When I first listened to this stuff I was blown away. I immediately thought of who or what I could compare this to, in case you've never heard it before and I could only think of one band. Iron Maiden, but ten times as louder and heavier. The riffs are simple and nothing technical, but extremely heavy. In fact, when the soloing comes in, I almost think of Mercyful Fate. The singing is just phenomenal. It has a lot of power to it; one minute it is really low, like an accented Blackie Lawless, then it rips into this high-pitched scream and you didn't know it was coming - it took you by surprise.

Like all short albums and EPs, I tend to review the songs individually and incorporate everything else. The first song Beyond starts off with a cool drum beat, which leads into a decent guitar riff. The riffs in this song (and on the album in general) are very 80's NWOBHM style. The drumming and guitar do some good stop and go rhythms, while the singer does some low, from the throat screams. Fire Raiser, the next song, has some better riffs in it, which reminds me of Hell Bent for Leather Judas Priest. However, here the production starts to lack. Right before the bridge it's hard to hear the vocals because the guitars are really loud.

The third song, Pain is different from the rest of the songs. It is similar to a metal ballad. Soft vocals during the verse with a clean guitar riff. Then a super heavy chorus follows with enough power to make you throw your fist in the air. What brings this song down is actually the singer. I think he could have done a lot better performance. This song, which is ballad like, could have used some high pitches to give it power, but all the high pitches come at the wrong spot -like during the solo. Mercenary is the highlight of this EP. The vocals shine on this song and make up for all the past mistakes. He goes into these laughs mixed with the throat scream into a super high pitched squeal. I have never heard something like this before, but it gives the song a good edge. Also the guitars and drumming do some good mixing on this song.

The last song Retribution, is a tad bit longer than the other songs. Again, a good track from the vocalist, and the best drumming and guitar riffs come from this song. If I was trying to sell this EP, I would play you these two songs...for me, listening to it on tape, it is side two. If you can get past the guitar distortion which is similar to Alice Cooper early 70's era, and you like NWOBHM style, this shit is for you.