Torch Runner - Endless Nothing - (7.5/10)
Published on November 24, 2014
Skulking about Greensboro, North Carolina are Torch Runner, a three-piece gun of a crust-slathered grind band, and with a name reminiscent of Olympic tradition, the band are much closer to a disowned teenage pyromaniac than they are to, well, Will. I. Am.
Their sophomore full-length record, Endless Nothing, sounds like it may have stayed back in elementary school, but it’s a mean bastard that bears its teeth and knuckles at the first sign of a homework assignment. Comprised of vox/bassist Rob “Ike” Turner, guitarist Scott “Langston” Hughes, and Josh “Oliver” Platt on the skins, Torch Runner make good use of their name by ripping off streams of crunchy angst-ridden filth like fireballs shooting from Carl Lewis’s ass. And while their debut album Committed to the Ground was appropriately dense and violent, this second effort just annihilates it to smithereens.
To call a spade a spade, the vocals on Endless Nothing are its weak point, albeit a subjective one. Grind and crust and whatever-the-hell have never been known for intelligible voices and pronunciations, but Ike’s performance on a song like “A.I.E.I.” is more distracting than it is chaos for the sake of chaos. Sure, there’s the whole “treat it as another instrument” ideal, but enough of that; Ike’s screech is far too one-dimensional and repetitive, even if he does sound true-blue pissed-off. It’s a strike, no doubt, but there’s very little else in the way of real complaints from here on out.
As crust-grind is wont to do, there’s no time-wasting here; these guys get down to irate 90-second business with flourishes of ill-tempered punishment reminiscent of bands like Nails, Rotten Sound, or Weekend Nachos. And like said acts, Torch Runner mix things up by slowing things down; an absolute savior quality for Endless Nothing that not only ushers some serious sludge-goodness – ala the album’s longest track, “Circle of Shit” – but it also allows Ike’s vocals to melt that much meaner. A more successful template is when the band tend to burst furious for the first two-thirds of a song and then dim the pace to something not far removed from a beat-down – vicious tracks like “Bound by Misery,” “Congregation,” “Godlust,” and “Rebirth” all effectively slay with their graciously gratuitous pummeling, while a song like the intro, “Attrition,” is similar to something the deviants in Lord Mantis might retch forth.
Signed to Southern Lord, these guys would make a gnarly bill if partnered with fellow crust and grind freaks and label-mates Black Breath, Dead in the Dirt, and The Secret. As it stands, Endless Nothing is suitably incensed and entirely too chaotic for anyone not down with grinding noise. With that said, it’s still a killer second effort that hears Torch Runner closing the gap between themselves and their influences.