Torch Runner

Committed to the Ground

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Some albums out there require patience, revealing their sonic secrets only after listeners really mull them over. It's a safe bet that Torch Runner's debut for Southern Lord, the frenzied and savage Committed to the Ground, spends its metaphorical free time beating up those records and taking their lunch money. In just over 22 minutes, the North Carolina trio delivers a relentless assault of chaotic grindcore that looks to leave nothing in its wake but pure destruction. Tempering the seemingly bottomless well of blastbeats provided by the tireless Scott Hughes, Torch Runner occasionally give their songs the space to open up. After a furious D-beat opening, "Canon Cast" slows down to a relative crawl as the band shifts gears to a doomier sound. It's in these moments that Torch Runner show how menacing they truly are. Where Committed to the Ground's faster moments provide the adrenaline-fueled rush of being chased, the sludgy crawl of the album's slower passages create the feeling of being hunted, like in the movies where the protagonist is hiding in a closet and hoping more than anything that the monster doesn't open the door. All this comes together to make Committed to the Ground an album that keeps listeners engaged not only through its formidable speed and aggression, but also with layers of depth that aren't often found on grind albums. Most impressive, however, is that Torch Runner have created these layers without sacrificing directness, so even though it's possible to just drop in for a moment of cathartic chaos, the album shows that there's more to grind than speed.

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