Review: Torpor ‘Rhetoric Of The Image’

Torpor are from London. They are not from the dark corners of your mind…although I have a feeling this is where they went while coming up with the music for this album.  It made me pretty happy when I found out they managed to sound like they do, with just three members: Lauren Mason (bass/vox), Jon Taylor (guitar/vox) and Simon Mason (drums/vox), plus they all get involved in vocal duties, which is pretty cool.

Torpor 'Rhetoric Of The Image'

So that’s a bit about the band, what about this record?

The opening track Benign Circle instantly gave me Mouth Of The Architect vibes. Two big, open sounding chords that cycle back and forth with the clockwork rhythm, until someone steps on the overdrive pedal (or maybe multiple overdrives/fuzz pedals/or whatever the kids are using these days) and the guitar and bass tones thicken into something far more dense. At the 1.20 mark, we are introduced to the vocals, they are not clean because, why would you do that? This track is heavy, overbearing and hypnotic. All the ingredients required for atmospheric, sludgy-doom inspired metal…I was enjoying myself, I was thinking ‘Yeah, this is pretty cool, it’s heavy, I can listen to this’.

Then the track changes. We are now in some pretty dark sounding post-rock territory and it’s a thing of beauty. Delay washed, reverb soaked beauty. Punctuated by bass drones that drag you into the world of bands like Year Of No Light. It lasts a while, makes your skin tingle with anticipation, you’re waiting for the gates to open once again. They do. The heavy ensues, this time slower and more deliberate. We are taken through a section of ultra low-tuned droning riffs until we reach the end. It felt good.

Then things feel even more good (yeah I know, I say what I want). The next track Two Heads On Gold is a different kind of animal. What sounds like a warm, melting, crunchy synth line brings us in to another level of hypnosis. Beneath the music, is a persistent pad of sound holding the brittle track together. Intermittent cymbal, snare and bass drum hits give us some sort of tempo to cling on to, as if the whole thing could just slide out of view at any moment. A female voice reaches through, a spoken word. It taps at your ears, leaning in closer, giving you shivers. More sounds. A shouting man in the distance, allowing contrast…it’s haunting and unnerving. This is not how I expected this to go after hearing the first track.

It’s like listening to the soundtrack of a horror-survival game, except you aren’t trying to escape, you want to stay longer…

From track three onwards, we’re treated to the same formula…don’t take this as a negative, it certainly is not. After a few listens I did find myself forgetting what song I was listening to, the tracks tend to blend into one another, something that is inevitable when you are in the business of writing drawn-out, heavy music with sporadic vocals and long passages.

There are two more tracks to chew on after this, but I won’t attempt to describe them, for fear of sounding like I am repeating myself.

The cycle of two or three note riffs, paired with tortured vocals and an unbelievably powerful bass sound is satisfying…but it isn’t new. It’s been done many times by many bands. The question is, do Torpor do it well? The answer is a resounding yes.

What this band do very well, is contrast. Track 2, Two Heads On Gold is one of the most stunning pieces of musical ambience I have heard in some time. Put some headphones on and let yourself sink right in. It’s like listening to the soundtrack of a horror-survival game, except you aren’t trying to escape, you want to stay longer. It’s worth your time, it’s worth a listen.

Label: Truthseeker Music | Sludgelord Records | Moment of Collapse Records| Medusa Crush Recordings | Smithsfoodgroup DIY
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Keeran Williams