Hydra Head Records
The underground metal cognoscenti revered the 2005 self-titled debut album by heavy hometown heroes Torche for its melodic take on sludgy sounds. But it was last year's followup, Meanderthal, that won the band a wider audience and even more critical praise. (And even though at the time the album was recorded, half the musicians lived outside of their hometown, we'll still claim 'em.) Torche kept the down-tuned riffage cranked to 11 but at the same time explored more left-field influences, with shades of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth brought to the fore. It earned the group prime-time slots at a slew of international festivals, as well as glowing reviews from Mojo, Spin, Pitchfork, and pretty much every other magazine. On a bittersweet note, the record is also the last capturing of the band's classic lineup; guitarist Juan Montoya, who wrote a large chunk of Meanderthal's riffs, was booted last year. Luckily, the album remains as evidence of Miami's best recent heavy exports in their prime.
Full list of winners June 10 via bestof.miaminewtimes.com, June 11 on newsstands.