Punk has had an interesting history. We’ve seen it evolve from a simple social outcry into a complex, multi-headed beast – capable of introducing melodies, ska, folk, and (popularly) hardcore. The latter mentioned subgenre has presented us with many a standout band, especially from the UK. Torchbearer is one such project – the South Wales hardcore newcomers are on the cusp of releasing their upcoming EP, Against The Tide.
The record’s opener, Time Served, sees vocalist Andy Mansell presenting harsh vocals in a frantic, fast-paced punk track with an uplifting, catchy chorus. Paralysed, a softer-hitting track, follows and features the rest of the band coming to the forefront. Back-up vocalists Ollie Gould (guitar) and Mohannad Mamoun Abdul-Rahaman Bashir Ahmed Meckey Ghuleb (bass) back Mansell up with the line “You know you’ve got me right where you want me, like an insect I’m caught in your web,” which will no doubt become a live favourite. Despite this and the track’s relatively short length, it feels repetitive and the only real punch is in the chorus.
What is excellent about Against The Tide is the number of styles and sounds Torchbearer explores throughout. Even in the second track, Paralysed, they switch between straight-up hardcore punk with harmonising background ‘woah’s, to heavy breakdowns and an anthemic chorus which will no doubt go down a treat on the road. Ascender shows the band’s groovy side, as the track shifts from chaotic, heavy riffs and gorgeous melodies to catchy singalong choruses with ease. Drummer Scott Harris aids this transition significantly, and his beats are at their best on Ascender. With this, Torchbearer prove themselves as a multi-dimensional outfit is a part of what makes Against The Tides a great EP.
This variety is also reflected well in the lyrics and themes of each track. The record begins with the themes of perseverance in Time Served, before going down to the depths of hopelessness in Paralysed, and the quartet pair their instrumentals with the content well. Mansell provides the aggressive, hurt emotions through his rough vocals whilst the rest of the band provide melody and resilience in the softer sections of the record. The record’s closer, Torchbearer, acts as a beacon of hope from the pain and experienced throughout Against The Tide, and it works well as an optimistic closer. Their message is powerful and well-executed, with the aforementioned title track also being the heaviest, and arguably strongest, of the EP.
Against The Tide is a short, sweet, punch in the chest. With its release, Torchbearer have shown their mettle and energy brilliantly, combining smooth instrumentals with balls-to-the-wall heaviness and attitude. It may be early days for the project, but Against The Tide is full of promise and showcases the quartet’s potential. If they continue to work on their sound and establish themselves further, they have a bright future ahead.
Standout Tracks: Time Served, Torchbearer
For Fans Of: Gallows, Comeback Kid, Every Time I Die
Written by: Jordan McEvoy