Tuesday 3 January 2023

TORSO - A Crash Course In Terror (Album Review)

Release Date: January 27th 2023. Record Label: APF Records. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

A Crash Course In Terror - Tracklisting

1.Heads Start To Roll


3.Sinking Spell

4.Depth Charge

5.Precious Blood

6.Death TV

7.Circuit Breaker Breaker


A Crash Course In Terror is the debut album from TORSO which is the new band from POSSESSOR! lead singer/axeman Graham Bywater. This is a different beast to POSSESSOR! with TORSO being firmly powered by 70’s Grindhouse cinema and music powered by the influences of John Carpenter, GOBLIN, KISS and Alice Cooper but given a Relapse Records makeover.

Yeah, that’s a strange combination but if you ever wondered what 70’s era Alice Cooper would sound like if he was ever given the keys to Relapse Records, well TORSO is your answer. Throw in modern day Sludge/Stoner Rock sounds with a seedy demonic outlook. Hell, TORSO even touches upon grooves eerily similar to TORCHE and RED FANG.

The vocals by Graham are bang on point if you’re a fan of 70’s Shock Rock vocals with an ever present modern day Doom Metal showmanship which can be heard throughout the album. The music is wonderfully dark and inventive especially when TORSO matches 70’s Grindhouse soundbytes with the thrilling turbo-charged grooves that appear on the excellent opening song Heads Starts To Roll.

Heads Starts To Roll sees Graham putting in a commanding performance with Psychedelic Sludgy Weedian Grooves given that Shock Rock makeover for a different style of Stoner based energy. 

Second song Pranks is an Ambient Psychedelic Doomed Out Affair which lasts around two minutes which contains a lot of different sounds and vocals contained within this track. 

TORSO returns to their normal GRINDHOUSE programming with the next track Sinking Spell which has a sinister KISS style energy but with TORSO focusing more upon despairing DOOM based lyrics. Despite all the bleakness of the track, this track remains a highly energetic slice of Sludge/Stoner Metal with perhaps a sinister Punk-ish upbeat energy. This reminds me of early-era Kvelertak in places but it’s good to hear Graham embracing a more Progressive sound when the faster instrumental parts appear.

Fourth song Depth Charge is similar to earlier song Pranks with its Ambient and Cinematic style of Post-Doom, Post-Rock or Post-Whatever sound. Distant vocals have a more dramatic presence here but this is another great side to hear from TORSO that make this album simply sublime to listen to.

The final three songs of Precious Blood, Death TV and Circuit Breaker Breaker are perhaps where TORSO impresses the most creatively speaking. Precious Blood is more Street Doomed Out Punk orientated with harsh Psychedelic seedy grooves leading the way.

Death TV follows the same course of action as Pranks and Depth Charge that contained. More low-key sounds and effects creating a highly atmospheric tone that has that essence GOBLIN and John Carpenter film scores did back in the day. 

Circuit Breaker Breaker is without doubt the standout track on the album with TORSO merging everything together with what came before it for a surreal Progressive Doomed and Psychedelic Stoner Metal ride into the seedy Grindhouse era that Graham uses for inspiration. Heavy sonic based grooves have a distorted effect with another fantastic showman vocal performance from Graham leading the way. 

TORSO is helped on his demonic journey by Wayne Adams who recorded, mastered and mixed the album. Wayne also provides keyboards on certain tracks on the album such as Pranks, Depth Charge and Circuit Breaker Breaker. Wayne does fantastic and first rate work on this album both behind the scenes and on the album itself. 

Graham Bywater deserves the majority of the praise as Graham has written a brilliant and action packed slice of Grindhouse based Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal that has plenty of BITE and ATTITUDE to stand out from the underground scene.

A Crash Course In Terror is a must have release and it’s cool that APF Records are releasing this album. I couldn’t think of a better label to release the album. It will be interesting to hear what TORSO will come up with next but until then, check out this great album now.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to APF Records for the promo.

A Crash Course In Terror will be available to buy on CD/Cassette/DD/Vinyl from January 27th 2023 via APF Records.


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