There’s a temptation, when looking back at reformed bands whose original body of work emerged during the heyday of ‘true’ metal, to automatically assume that ‘old’ always equals ‘good’. Take Sweden’s Torch, for instance, who are just about to release their first full-length elpee in over a decade in the shape of Reignited.
They formed in 1980 and released two albums in the eye of the original Euro metal storm in 1984 and 1985. But, with the best will in the world, even the most rabid Swedish metalhead at the time wouldn’t have been able to label them as anything other than strict kött och potatis metal; So, thirty five years later, you could be forgiven for approaching this new album with a little trepidation, especially as, ‘new’ guitarist Håkky (he joined in 2013) aside, this is the original Torch lineup that recorded those less-than-earth shattering albums back in the day. That old = good equation looks like it might be sorely tested here…
… Tested and passed, it would seem. From the opening notes of opener Knuckle Duster through to closing anthem To The Devil It’s Due, it’s clear that vocalist Dan Dark, guitarist Chris J First, bassist Ian Greg and drummer Steve Streaker have spent their time wisely these past three and a half decades. Knuckle Duster knocks their two eighties albums into a cocked hat right off the bat in terms of sonics, a muscular, anthemic piece of mid-paced crunch that manages to be familiar yet fresh-sounding all at once, whilst follow-up track Collateral Damage is easily as good as anything released by Accept over the past couple of albums.
In fact Accept are the obvious touchstone here, with fellow Swedes Bullet also getting in on the influence act; Torch have carved a nice niche for themselves with this album, somewhere between those two more illustrious acts, and, if they manage to keep this ball rolling for a few more years then they should be able to take up their place in the world of Euro metal alongside similarly calibrated acts as Mean Streak et al.
The superbly-titled All Metal, No Rust is probably the high water mark creatively here, Dark bellowing in best Dirkschneider fashion, Greg pummelling away on one bass string remorselessly and the twin axes grinding out the ballsy riffs in fine style. Of course you’ve heard it all before, but when it’s done this well this kind of heavy metal is nigh-on irresistible. Welcome back lads!
Reignite releases on September 25th.