Without a doubt, this just might be one of the more beautifully packaged records to come out in recent memory; Torche's latest record, In Return has been released as a ten inch vinyl record that includes the CD (a great idea that Shellac also hit on with their latest, which more record labels and bands need to start doing), and that is not even the most impressive element of the packaging concept.
What you see when you first feast your eyes on this wondrous release is a gatefold ten inch sleeve in it's poly bag with a sticker on it proclaiming that the record is Torche's In Return; when one opens the gatefold and views the outside, the full view of the cover art comes into view. The cover (conceived and created by John Baizley of Baroness who has recently provided the artwork for Pig Destroyer's Phantom Limb, Darkest Hour's Deliver Us, Baroness's split with Unpersons, and Baroness's upcoming The Red Album) is a visual tour de force with bright, vibrant color and no text to cloud the stunning image that is presented. On the inner portion of the gatefold package, the CD is affixed to the packaging with a cunning use of tabs and is placed in the center of painted portraits of the members of Torche faces; it is a completely different style of depiction that brings the whole concept up a few levels of sophistication. Personally, I have the "Blue Planets vinyl" which really ties the complete design concept together.
So after all this jibber jabber about how great and amazing the presentation is, you are probably wondering when I am actually going to talk about the music that comprises In Return. Truthfully, Torche gives us a good record that outshines their self-titled album. The opening strains of "Bring Me Home" lend an otherworldliness to the mood of the record from the get go that is only further cemented by the excellent vocal arrangements that join the proceedings; it is an effective manner that sets mood and feel rather well. The throbbing rhythms and bottom heavy groove that were a hallmark of the sound of Floor (a precursor band to Torche for guitarist and vocalist Stephen Brooks) and was evident on Torches self-titled album are in full effect during the song "Hellion." This track is one of the better examples of what Torche is capable of with their collective songwriting: a good groove, awesome bottom heavy sound, vocals that are soaring and almost syrupy sweet, and just enough noise to give the song an edge. "Olympus Mons" is an instrumental piece that sounds as monstrously huge as its namesake; it has such a deep sound and lumbers along in complete ignorance of whatever it may demolish. "Tarpit Carnivore" is another good example of what Torche is capable of producing; it opens with an absolutely crushing chug that easily creates the image of a monstrous beast stomping through its hunting grounds while indiscriminately mauling other creatures in its path. With "Warship," Torche combine the soaring vocal arrangements with the throbbing rhythms, bottom heavy groove, and the touches of noise to create a short and sweet closer that does more than just take up space and or close In Return; it adds a depth to the record that is necessary and welcome.
Torche easily surpass their previous effort with In Return; the songs seem much more cohesive and have a stronger mood and feel. The record is quick and concise and has little in the way of throwaway tracks; there may be songs that you skip over from time to time, but every song is worth listening in its own way. In Return is worth owning if not just for the shining example of what a great looking record can look like. And, the music is excellent on its own merit and worth a second listen if you were at all disappointed with their previous output.
7.9 / 10
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