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69 Chambers - Torque
CD Reviews
Written by Sara Letourneau   
Tuesday, 24 April 2012
69 Chambers - CD Review
Torque
69 Chambers - Torque

 

CD Info

2012

Massacre Records / Germany

14 Tracks

English Lyrics

 

 

No, Torque isn’t an album about the most metal cars on the planet. Its only connection to vehicles is that 69 Chambers singer / multi-instrumentalist / principal songwriter Nina-Vetterli Treml has a side career as an automobile journalist. However, one of several definitions of "torque" found at Merriam-Webster.com is "a turning or twisting force." What could this mean from a musical standpoint? One word: evolution. After releasing their solid yet unspectacular debut album War On The Inside in 2009, Swiss alternative metallers 69 Chambers have added new twists to their music to shake things up. The result is the bold and sexy yet slightly dissonant Torque.

Due out in Europe on April 27, Torque is another slab of 69 Chamber’s distinctive, guitar-governed alt rock/metal with poppy melodies and electronic flourishes. However, while War On The Inside is like a purring kitten, Torque is a roaring tigress with a "come hither" stare. The new songs have a grit and ferocity that was lacking on 69 Chambers’ debut CD. Part of this is due to the addition of lead guitarist Tommy Vetterli, of Coroner fame and 69 Chambers’ producer (not to mention Treml’s husband). A wider array of drumming techniques (especially more double-kicking) from Diego Rapacchietti further ignites the new material. Also, Treml’s grunts are more prevalent on Torque. This lady’s sinister, guttural side contrasts with the sultry, Tori Amos-like expressiveness we normally hear her and creates a kind of "Jekyll & Hyde" persona to match the music’s duality.

Most of Torque seesaws between the extremes of the 69 Chambers spectrum. Kick-off track "Cause And Effect" shows Treml murmuring through ambient verses while Eluveitie frontman Chrigel Glanzmann snarls over the thrashing bridges. And with one of the album’s catchiest refrains, this track is an excellent choice for the first single. "The Doom Of Her Power" is the most mature of the shred-heavy tracks, combining classic songwriting with modern elements such as complex arrangements and strategically placed grunts. Other heavy highlights include the hyper-rocker "Anhedonia" and the doom-drenched "Naughty Naughty Naughty."

Torque also features a decent amount of variety. Several tracks hearken back to the murky style of American grunge rock icons Soundgarden, a band that Treml has called one of her greatest influences. The best of this bunch is "Bring On The Flood," where Vetterli’s wall of coarse guitars intermingles with radio-friendly sensibility. Its overall energy and a memorable chorus make this track my prediction for the album’s second single. "Temple Down" and "Burn Some Gasoline" are also great Soundgarden-esque numbers with slower tempos and mellow tones. An even more sedate track closes out Torque, to the listener’s surprise. "Elegy" offers Treml’s take on Tori Amos’s piano-rock simplicity, with power-ballad urgency injected at the end. It’s like a lullabye to soothe one’s anxieties at night.

Torque grows on the listener with each spin, but not without hitting some potholes. The variety I just spoke of acts as a double-edge sword at times. The rock-soul vibe of "Your Fool" is out of place on this guitar-fueled album – not to mention it clashes with Treml’s vocal style. Other tracks will raise eyebrows with titles that sound more appropriate from a pop girl-group than from a metal band. ("Ring A Bell"? "The Peep Hole"? Really??) Then there are Treml’s grunts. They’re not poorly performed; Treml does a great job with letting her vocal beast loose. However, the grunts claw their way onto nine out of 14 songs, compared to only one on War On The Inside. That’s a staggering leap in brutality that the listener may not adjust to well. Plus, the grunts detract from the quality of some tracks, either distracting from the instrumentation ("And Then There Was Silence") or dragging an already mediocre song further into the mud ("Closure").

Harsh criticism, I know, but another point I made earlier is true: Torque does grow on the listener with time. It takes some getting used to the new, harsher elements, especially if you’re a fan of the tamer War On The Inside. The unleashing of 69 Chambers, however, is what makes Torque as good as it is. The band has maintained its strong songwriting core while fine-tuning the polarities in their music. How many metal albums can you think of that have songs that are as carnal as they are catchy? Not many, I’m sure. Personally I’d prefer fewer grunts from Treml next time, I know better. No metal band becomes a relevant force on the scene without making their music more intense. That’s undoubtedly 69 Chambers’ intention with Torque – because the album oozes and screams with that ambition.

8 / 10

Best Songs: "The Doom Of Her Power," "Bring On The Flood," "Cause And Effect"

Recommended for fans of Garbage, Lacuna Coil, Die So Fluid, Kells, and other alternative rock and metal bands.

Torque
will be released in Europe on April 27, 2012 via Massacre Records.

Check out 69 Chamber’s:
Official Website
Facebook 
Massacre Records Website 

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