Torch Runner wastes no time launching Endless Nothing, the Greensboro trio's second album. Opener "Attrition" lunges into a seasick riff, backed by blastbeats and howls. The unease is immediate, carrying the band's recurring themes of existential dread or, as they prefer to describe it, "the internal battle and desolation that we face after realizing that our existence is utterly inconsequential."
Despite those nihilistic preoccupations, Torch Runner has gained the momentum necessary to become consequential. In February, the band signed with notable heavy outpost Southern Lord to reissue 2012's Committed to the Ground (originally pressed by Raleigh's To Live A Lie Records) and unveil the new Endless Nothing. And for good reason: After two shorter-form releases and a split with Charlotte's Young And In The Way, Committed to the Ground showcased a more precise ferocity, dependent on a potent blend of the slow and sudden. Like grindcore forefathers Napalm Death, they congealed disparate subgenres, with doom deliberation surging into hardcore outbursts, pummeling blasts morphing into big grooves.
Endless Nothing is longer than its predecessor by one song, but it lasts 30 seconds less. Still, Torch Runner doesn't rush even when they race. Like their contemporaries in Pig Destroyer and Nails, Torch Runner packs remarkable dynamism and depth into grindcore's blinking-eye pace. In both the half-minute rush of "All We Have" and the grimy feedback and plod of relative epic "Circle of Shit," Torch Runner crafts volatile compositions that recoil and explode.
After seven years of steady touring, Torch Runner's new exposure might seem inevitable, but plenty of bands can play fast and loud and roam long enough in a van to garner an audience. But Torch Runner's consistency of vision and deft toying with tension make their records worth repeat listens. And in this niche of quick bursts and quicker expirations, that is certainly of consequence.
Label: Southern Lord