While previewing this album at my day job, a co-worker asked, “Is that music or static coming out of your speakers?” Short answer: Yes. To say that North Carolina’s grind-infused, crusty three-piece, Torch Runner, are abrasive, especially to the untrained ear, is a vast and monumental understatement.
After their new label, Southern Lord, reissued their debut album earlier this year, Torch Runner are back with a new release, Endless Nothing. Like the wolf on the album’s cover, it’s a wild and rabid affair, with each song hunting individually yet strung together become a ferocious pack of gnashing, blood-stained teeth. It’s less an album and more of a gauntlet where the objective is to try not to get steamrolled by the fury emanating from your speakers.
You won’t find many albums this year that deliver such a downright nihilistic punch to the mid-section with as much viciousness and aggressiveness as Endless Nothing. It’s a violent record that with few exceptions never really relents. Even on a track like “Circle of Shit” where the tempo is slowed to represent the more crust/d-beat influences this band carries, it remains as unyielding as ever in its delivery.
It’s a harsh album meant for harsh times. It’s a brutal exposition left to be almost forcefully consumed by anyone in earshot. Yet it’s also an album played to near perfection by each member of Torch Runner. This is not some sloppy grind album where the point is to just play it fast and pissed for the sake of it. On the contrary, there are moments on this album where drums, bass, guitar, and scathing vocals are all so deftly interwoven that the white noise of it all becomes this all-encompassing cloud, like a fog that appears from nowhere, blinding and choking you. It’s an oppressive feeling yet eventually cathartic when you realize you’ve come out the other side of the madness better for it, more prepared to take on a world that grows colder and more unfeeling with the passing days.
Endless Nothing hits the streets on September 30. You can experience the tracks “Godlust” and “Circle of Shit” over at the Southern Lord Bandcamp page.