TÖRR, Kladivo Na Čarodějnice (1993, Monitor)
Törr love the Big Dumb Skull. I mean, they really love it. This compilation cover is basically the same as their first demo, with the logo moved up a bit to obscure less of the skull, and that’s why we chose it, but several of their other albums feature skulls that are even bigger and dumber. For all I know, “Törr” is Czech for Skull. In fact, that’d be so great that I’m just going to assume it’s true, without doing any research that might disprove it. Anyway, this guy looks positively crestfallen, so bummed out, but he’s got so much going on. I want to say, “Hey man, dry your eye holes! You’re a skull! You’re big and dumb, and I mean that in the best way. You’ve got fangs! You’ve got crossbones! You’ve got an upside-down cross earring, for fuck’s sake! You’re the star of the show, alone on a black background! Do you know how many skulls are forced to languish on fields of scratchy brown nonsense? How many skulls are forced to share the stage with Photoshopped snakes and cheap looking fire? You’re drawn by hand, you’re a total badass, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”
If you find yourself in a place with a lot of dudes in denim vests covered in patches, at least one of those vests will sport a Törr patch. And that’s about as much as I knew about Törr before now. I guess I always assumed they were a black metal band of low fidelity and repute. Instead, they’re a kind of weird Czech band (which, I realize, is something of a redundant description) who play a thrashy heavy metal with a serious Venom/Bathory influence. It’s not super aggressive, and it’s not particularly extreme. And I like it! They’re kind of like a light Czech Sodom (and if you find yourself listening to some of their later stuff, like Tempus Fugit, the notion that Törr is just a straight-up translation of Sodom to Czech is inescapable). This release is a compilation of re-recorded tracks from the band’s early days, and while most bands of this sort, if they had the chance to re-record their demos, would make them heavier, bigger, more, but Törr instead opted to clean everything up a little bit, and while the rawness that defined the original material is more or less polished away, what’s left is a refined take on what was evidently a little more sophisticated than anyone might have imagined. From what I can tell, the band got heavier again after this, and rawer, so maybe they didn’t like the way these tunes came out the second time, but personally, I think they work well.
— Friar Johnsen