Torch Runner- Endless Nothing

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back in June I reviewed Torch Runner’s debut album Committed to the Ground, which had just gotten a re-release via Southern Lord. The North Carolina band’s sound was instantly appealing to me, channeling that chaotic hardcore, crust, and grind combination that hits hard and doesn’t overstay its welcome. While Committed to the Ground made that strong first impression, it didn’t quite stand out as one of the best I had come across recently, though it was obvious that Torch Runner had a sturdy foundation they could build off of. It’s only a few months later and the group has released Endless Nothing, which continues to provide fast paced assault with some slower moments. In the two years that have passed between the original release of the first album and this new one, has the group been able to reach their full level of potential?

After spending a solid week with this album, my conclusion is that Torch Runner has hit that level. In fact, they’ve blown through just about any expectations I had going in as every single element has been amplified. Endless Nothing doesn’t deviate that much from what the group offered before, as there is the same emphasis on intense grind/hardcore mixed with the occasional slower section. The difference this time around is in the construction of each song, as even though most of them still fly by in two minutes or less there are more sections that stick with you this time around. Not only that, but the production seems to have gotten even more abrasive and there’s even more weight behind every note and drum beat. Considering that Torch Runner was already pretty in your face to begin with, the fact that they’ve managed to amp everything up that much more puts this album over the top. There’s a bit more variation between the blasting grind and mid-tempo/slower paced crusty hardcore, making it easier to pick out individual moments than before. But the song on Endless Nothing I’ve returned to the most is also the longest. “Circle of Shit” is a four minute piece that crawls along at a slow pace, and features not only one of the dirtier bass tones acting as a base while the guitars scream over top of it, but the bass drops during the refrain are speaker shattering. It makes one hell of an impression, and is a perfect example of how Torch Runner has reached that peak level of aggression, often making it feel like they’re going to steamroll right over you with sheer weight.

Even though the instrumentals may have taken an even more abrasive turn, Rob Turner’s vocals are still a prominent element of the group’s material and don’t get completely swept away by the wall of sound. His screaming style is what drew me to Torch Runner previously, as he has that type of pitch where it feels like he’s going to completely tear apart his vocal cords with every word. At times it reminds me a bit of Jacob Bannon with the way the delivery crams in a lot of words at once and keeps the intensity at a high during every moment, but Turner’s pitch isn’t exactly the same and it does have a feel of its own. There’s just the right amount of separation between instrumentals and vocals, which allows the screams to tower over the songs and seem downright intimidating at times. This is definitely a case where the group didn’t need any major changes when it came to the intensity and power of the vocals, and they continue to use it to their advantage.

Torch Runner has taken everything up a notch with Endless Nothing. The sound has managed to get even more abrasive and in your face, which seems hard to have pulled off considering how intense the band already was on their debut. But there’s also a bit more nuances to the individual songs than before, and I found that there are a number of different transitions and leads stuck in my head this time around. If you’re into any type of grind/crust/hardcore and want music that will bust out of your speakers and hit you with the force of a bomb, this is a must have.

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