Torche's 2005's self-titled effort on Robotic Empire had everybody making the obvious comparisons to the last echoes of Floor still floating around. Meanderthal was 2008's breakthrough as far as finding a unique voice distancing from the band members' individual pasts (besides Floor, Cavity, Shitstorm, Mehkago N.T., Ed Matus' Struggle, Panda Bite, Tyranny of Shaw, Tunes for Bears to Dance To, etc...) and then a slew of EPs and splits kept the appetites whet and the band in the spotlight.
This is good. This is what you expect. And while those sourpusses over at Pitchfork might want to wield their "mighty" cool swords all over town, remember this: Steve Brooks was setting up his mastery of the "guitar bomb" for the very bands these people went gaga for when they were in diapers and the internet was Al Gore's feverish dream. It's true.
So now comes the band's new album, Harmonicraft. And if those cranks at Pitchfork feel like "predictability" is at play on this album, I posit the following: This is new guitarist Andrew Elstner's first ride on the bull that is Torche, and here you have everything that you need for a solid album: soaring vocals, gruff guitars, a well-gelled rhythm section, and varied compositions that work together symbiotically to create a full and ethereal aural experience.
While the first eight tracks fly by at breakneck speeds momentarily displaced by buildups and changes, it is the opener of side B I find myself returning to, again and again. "Skin Moth" is absolutely delicious. There's enough Melvins/Nirvana and sludgy pop therein to satisfy a number of musical genres.
A quick note on the album itself and why you should really invest in the vinyl version because Volcom has pulled no stops on its first Torche release: (A) It is a beautiful gatefold cover with a fold-out poster, (B) it includes a lollipop slipmat, (C) it has a code for a digital download so you can put it into your precious iPods, and (D) the clear wax is gorgeous and thick, making it sound even more awesome than it should. The artwork is also kind of cool in that it has these weird turtle/goat terra-formed creatures floating around the pinkness of space vomiting rainbows. I can't think of anything more HC and/or metal than that.
Torche - "Kiss Me Dudely"
On a related aside, I was recently part of a Facebook group discussion examining the merits of "pink" clothing, and I am proud to say that my pink Torche T-shirt is one of my most cherished possessions. Pink was the new black, and now it's the all-time best, so eat shit if you can't hang with a track like "Kiss Me Dudely."
Jonathan Nuñez and Rick Smith maintain a tight network holding up Brooks' vocals and guitar, and Elstner does a good job of fitting in quickly, a point that those who know me know I do out of respect as my opinions regarding Juan Montoya's departure were well heard. But I'd be a piece of shit if I let that interfere with my enjoyment of this band as a whole.
The title track is a good drone to drink to, by the way, and "Looking On" is the longest track here, and it does a good job of closure for the album, it has a sensitivity that comes from the ether, it is the feedback of the vacuum, it is all in all the thick tail of a delicious red snaking slowly down your throat. Personally, I can't wait for the next effort. And neither can the hip cats at Stereogum, since they are already hailing it as one of the year's best. I fucking love South Florida!
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Torche - "Looking On"