Torch - Leaving Me Behind

Leaving Me Behind
inåt bakåt Records

It’s been about four years since Danish act Torch’s first demo, but the time between then and the release of their debut LP, Leaving Me Now, has been well spent. The trio’s brand of synth-based darkwave, which also owes a great deal to the purest strains of goth rock, is tightly arranged and executed on Leaving Me Now, delivering a solid and driving set of tunes which have just enough in the way of hooks, production, and panache without sacrificing any of the drama and weighty darkness this style depends upon.

Rather than rushing right for the most obvious of dancefloor formations (a move which is beginning to yield diminishing returns for plenty darkwave bands), Torch alternate between a staccato punch which has more in common with original synthpunk or early goth rock than smooth modern grooves, and slower, atmospheric tracks which positively exude charnal miasma. Knowing just when to add some classic goth guitar, as on “Endure”, or when to become a bit more ornate with arrangements and key changes, as on “Euphoria”, ensures that the core sounds in Torch’s toolkit never wear out their welcome. Add in Ivik Rosing-Johnsen’s wounded bellow and Leaving Me Now would tick enough boxes to be a perfectly enjoyable goth amuse-bouche, even if the band weren’t capable of writing a memorable tune (which they certainly are).

One gets the sense that the lengthy gestation period’s given the band time to identify and refine their best material (not to mention when to really lean into the fretless bass, an all too rare instrument in goth rock). A handful of the tracks here have been out for a couple of years, but again, the lack of rush has given the band time to cinch in the sequencing to ensure that each track’s sitting in the best possible context, and even tweak the odd thing. If I don’t miss my guess “Blood Rituals” has simply been remixed and remastered rather than rerecorded (and that’s John Mirland of Am Tierpark behind the desk, by the way), but that’s more than enough to bring the stuttering punch of the percussion and its serpentine guitar crawl into clearer focus. Stuff like this hangs on mood and atmosphere as much as anything else, and there’s lots of that here without needing to go the lo-fi route.

The comparisons which most easily come to mind with Leaving Me Now are tantalizing impossibilities (Forever Grey stepping back from their monotone minimalism and allowing some richer goth rock undertones to colour their music, or Horror Vacui reworking their slow jams for the disco). While paying tribute to the roots of their chosen genres, Torch don’t sound overly indebted to a particular act or sub-genre, and deliver a pugnacious yet elegant debut. Recommended.

Buy it.