"The Dirty Swagger" is the debut full-length outing from New Jersey’s Torchbearer (released via All Ears Music), offering up 10 tracks of surging, heavier than average post-hardcore (plus an unreleased B-side on SoundCloud) in about a half-hour. It’s really interesting, because the band works with a good deal of chugging rhythms, harshly strained vocals, caustic textures, and jaggedly aggressive arrangements without really coming across as "metalcore" or "metallic hardcore"—despite there being a certain air of influences related to the less straightforward elements of the 90’s era of that niche. All the roving basslines and dissonant textures amount to what I guess you could call a noise rock-ish take on post-hardcore or something, but… all that genre stuff doesn’t really matter, right?
"Pearls Before Swine" is a great opener because it kicks things off with what I think of as the band’s trademark sound: Loosely discordant, hard-hitting rhythms with a nice low-end pulse throughout. But then you’ve got shorter, more energetic cuts like "P.S. I’m Banging All of Them" (which actually tosses in some of the only straightforward-ish hardcore elements you’ll find herein); the noisy bursts of "Ill Advised"; and the slower, darker passages of tracks like "Stutter Syndrome" and "Decay"—the latter of which lightens up on the distortion and gives things more overall breathing room. There’s a little bit of a sheen of treble over certain elements within the mix that took my ears some time to adjust to; but I love the bass presence, and the vocals have some great oomph as well. I feel like these guys have yet to stumble upon the production values that would really hit the mark for what their work has to offer, though. I think something like a Steve Albini style or whatever could really open up some new angles and textures within this type of material that could be just incredible, but who knows? Regardless, as far as the songwriting goes, this is easily the band’s finest work to date. They’ve stepped up the visual aesthetic, too. Good stuff. Stream the entire album below via SoundCloud:
Raucous mind drowning out the present, providing distraction from the sense of unease. Can’t put our fingers on it, the devil in the details, in the background out of sight. Omnipresent but never overwhelming, the problem is peripheral. Never out of sight, never out of mind, I’m turning my head to look the devil in the eye. I am not my obsession with yesterday. I am not my dread of tomorrow. So I’m screaming at him, "I am not my mind." Through waiting for someone to take me by the hand and show me a new way to live, I still can’t bring myself to worship. I have yet to find anything eternal in myself. I am not mine. Omnipresent but never overwhelming, the problem is peripheral. Never out of sight, never out of mind, I’m turning my head to look the devil in the eye. Last year I asked for forgiveness, the year before I begged. Today I’m stealing it and walking the fuck away.
This is currently a digital-only release, but they’re working on finalizing a vinyl pressing as well, so keep your eyes peeled if you’d prefer a physical format…