Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Torso - Inside (album review)

Colonnades of odd meter timing and syncopated rhythms line the halls of Torso's Inside EP, creating an aura of strength and a powerful sense that one is lost in a funhouse.  Other passages are relaxed and laidback giving off the aroma of quiet confidence.  Klaus Gulyas' floor tom blasts shake the walls, the dual guitar haze unleashed by Michael Jandrisevits and Bernhard Gager clouds the senses and waters the eyes while Thomas Pint's effortless bass grooves hold it all together.

The band step up confidently on opening blitz, "One", swaggering and strutting through a four and a half minute blast of stoner rock built with proggy-pausey building blocks around a catchy slide guitar riff.  From there, the band continue to evolve and expand upon this foundation, getting a fair bit of mileage from the potent stop-go dynamics which infuse their power-packed compositions with a high level of energy.  "Black Man" further expands the band's dynamic approach, slowing things down then building back up again.  This track starts out as a Led Sabbath or Black Zeppelin type workout but the band quickly asserts their own identity and puts their own stamp on some long-revered styles.

The mere fact that the guys in the band have decided to call this 40 minute release an 'EP' tells you all you need to know about this band, their vision, where they're coming from and where they're going.  If the epic territory covered in the seven tracks and forty minutes of 'Inside' is an EP, duck and cover when it's time for them to release a full-length album, because chances are it's going to be mad.  The territory they tread upon is massive and expansive indeed, at times mind-twistingly proggy, at others ass-scorchingly hard rocking, and at still other times they are like "red chinese eye(d)" (a line from "Room") calm and emotionally detached gurus on a psychedelic headtrip to parts unknown, all the while carrying their stoner rock passport, never leaving home without it, as it were.

This predilection for expansive sonic landscapes comes through in the coda of the eight minute "Voices", in the eldritch open spaces between riffs on album closer "Haunting Witches" and in the lengthy corridors of title track "Inside".  As signature as these moments are the band know when to simply put their heads down and rock  out, always incorporating pausey rhythms and dynamics, always infusing their creations with an extra little spark.  "Haunting Witches" is a great example of this as well.  The song starts out as a riff-heavy, straight-ahead rocker, but soon becomes intellectually detached from the physical word and goes off on a final tangent.

Torso share a lot in common, sonically with German groups Heat and Kadavar but are not so much a retro act as the spiritual descendants of the original progenitors of prog.  Always looking to do things a little different, a little more interestingly, putting more in than they have to.  Odd time signatures, syncopated rhythms, experimental structural elements and furthermore a 'feel' that can't necessarily be quantified put this band into the top flight of neo-prog acts on the market today.  It probably helps that they wouldn't necessarily see themselves that way.

Highlights include: "One" and "Black Man"

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 40:33

From: Vienna, Austria

Genre: Stoner, Prog, Hard Rock, Psychedelic

Reminds me of: Heat, Kadavar, Three Seasons

Release Date: May 1, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: In an infinite realm outside of time walk down the colonnaded corridors to arrive at the chessboard to play the Grandmaster of the universe, the heavens themselves the only shelter above your head.

Better Reviews:
The Soda Shop
The Ripple Effect

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