by Paul Bowers
When it comes to tight, no-nonsense, old-school hard rock, few bands in Charleston can bring the noise like Torture Town. On Sunday, they'll defend their spot at the top of the heap with the release of Torture Town III, a five-song independent recording available at Monster Music and on ReverbNation.
"In terms of style and substance, I think it's the heaviest Torture Town album yet," says frontman Doug Walters. "On the other albums, there has been some humor and a little bit of parody, or like a character or caricature of sorts, almost cartoonish in a way. But this one is straight-ahead, for whatever reason. It's pretty dark."
The album hits like a gut punch, from the AC/DC-style guitar chug of "Outside" to Walters' bellowing wail at the end of "Crashing Down." Longtime collaborator Ballard Lesemann, also a bandmate in Walters' side project the Fairy God Muthas, provides the drum backbone to the songs, with Daniel Bennett on bass guitar and guest horns from trumpeter Ronnie Ward and trombonist Steve Spaulding. The sound is stripped-down and tough as nails.
The highlight track on III is "Welcome to Torture Town," which could also work as a sort of theme song for the band. Walters begins the song at a whisper: "The straight life is good life/ Darkness is a plague/ But the high road is too hard/ And hell ain't got no gate." It's a slow build until the 1:30 mark, when the band lets loose with a thunderous drum run by Lesemann and a wrenching vocal performance by Walters.
Torture Town will play an album release show with opening act Bully Pulpit at Tin Roof on Sun. Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. Admission is $5.