On 18th January 2019, Mascot Records will be reissuing Torque’s 1996 stand-alone self-titled album which features former Machine Head/Vio-lence guitarist Phil Demmel. The album includes 4 bonus tracks and as well as CD, will be released on vinyl and digitally for the first time.
It was 1994 when one of the San Francisco Bay Area thrash scenes leading lights Vio-lence called it a day following the departure of vocalist Sean Killian who retired and Rob Flynn who went on to form Machine Head.
From that band, the remaining members formed the riff heavy, groove infused thrashers Torque. Fronting the band, guitarist Phil Demmel also took on lead vocals for the first time and along with guitarist Ray Vegas, bassist Deen Dell and with drummer Mark Hernandez joining they created a formidably crushing four-way vocal assault with a tank like heaviness that was to burn brightly, but briefly.
Releasing three demos between 1994 and 1997, the self-titled album released on Mascot Records in 1996 and stands alone as the sole studio release from the band that came and went in the blink of an eye but hit you like a brass-knuckle sandwich. In 2003 Demmel joined Flynn in Machine Head.
Three songs from the original release were written whilst the band was still recording as Vio-lence, which means, three of the songs have lyrics written by Sean Killian before he left the band in 1993 – ‘Breed’, ‘Again’ and ‘Shooter.’ Upon making the decision to form Torque, Demmel entered the studio to re-record the vocals and on the strength of those demos, Mascot signed the band, who then went to ‘O’ Street Studios in Antioch, California to record the full album with Rob Beaton (Buckethead, Sammy Hagar, Exhorder).
Those songs all brimmed with explosive undertones such as dealing the world’s problems with ultra-extreme consequences (‘Breed’), a serial killers struggle with the dark-side (‘Shooter’) and being hunted (‘Again’). “Shooter was one of the slowest Vio-lence songs I ever wrote, so it was a difficult song to sing and play at the same time,” Demmel remembers.
Looking back on that time he recalls, “With writing and creating music, we all were willing try each other’s ideas, all contributions were welcomed. We wanted to stay true to our core and get out and share it with as many people as possible.”
At 11 songs long it is a relentless ride through addiction (‘H.L.S.), domestic abuse (‘Nothing’), revenge (‘Dead You Lay’) and being falsely accused and convicted of a crime (‘Pulled’) in amongst blazing riffery. On the epic ‘Hand Over Fist’ Demmel says, “the intro to the song was actually used as an instrumental before the last few Vio-lence shows – one of them a co-headline with Machine Head.”
“We were able pull a decent draw right out of the gate but supporting Exodus at the Maritime Hall was a highlight. Sean came up and sang ‘Breed’ with us and we destroyed. We were brought over to play the Dynamo festival in the Netherlands and we left with lifetime memories. A landmark event for us all,” he continues.
“I have nothing but fond memories of my time spent with these guys playing these songs. Great dudes to be in a band with. It was a tough time to be in a metal band in the mid-90s and I’m proud of what we were able to do in that time.”
Now, 23 years later the album gets the full reissue treatment and will be available on CD, as well as vinyl and digitally for the first time and includes liner notes written by Phil Demmel. The reissue features 4 bonus songs, taken from the bands last recordings the ‘1997 Demo’; ‘Circling’, ‘Erased’, ‘Sever’ and ‘Isolation/Anger Mine’.