Release Date: Apr 24, 2012
Record label: Volcom Entertainment
Genre(s): Metal, Pop/Rock, Sludge Metal
Further refining their balance between heaviness and harmony, Torche deliver a true successor to 2008's brilliant Meanderthal with their third full-length, Harmonicraft. Feeling more fleshed out than the Songs for Singles EP, the album finds Torche recapturing some of the atmosphere that seemed to have left them after they parted ways with guitarist Juan Montoya, whose spacy solos added a sprawling element to the band's tightly constructed hybrid stoner/pop jams. Tracks like "Kicking" and "In Pieces" create a sense of spaciousness not often found in three-minute songs, highlighting Torche's incredible knack for getting the most heavy metal out of pop's bite-sized portions.
Unlike anything else you’ll hear in metal’s sludge subgenre, Torche songs are unabashedly merry—and mercifully succinct. Forget headtrips: With the Miami foursome, it’s all about immediacy over introspection and boogying over brooding. Fans will forgive them for taking four years to craft their third stab of slabs, given its potency. Cheers to Torche for proving a heavy-rock band can be optimistic and sincere—without sacrificing any of the edge.
Who says metal has to be constantly laboured by doom, death and destruction? If you’re searching for a little optimism instead, look no further than the album cover above. Maybe they’re trying to make a statement, perhaps all that Floridian sun has gone to their heads, but Torche are here to bring a ray of sunshine into metal’s shadowed cell. With Harmonicraft, the band’s third studio album, Torche have further refined the sound they’ve been developing over the past eight years.
It’s about damn time. Not just for a new Torche album—though it has been a solid four years—but for an album like this: a muscular barrage of ear-filling power riffs and dogged rhythm that sounds uplifting without being masked in grandiose pretension. Where so many of their contemporaries thrash or jitter as a way to mask their lack of any real force, these Floridian sludgers know the inherent joy in noisy creation, and choose to relay it with sheer strength instead of bile or melodrama.
For current fans of “rock 'n' roll” (whatever the genre moniker even means now), there is very little to get excited about in terms of big, successful rock records. Sure, rhe Black Keys’ latest album cast a wide swath, but bargain bin post-grunge bands like Shinedown and Nickelback still hold down regular spots in the Billboard 200. Thank god the first quarter of 2012 has seen a wealth of unusually substantial indie rock records, like the angular, emotional Attack on Memory from Cloud Nothings, the thick, punk/metal riffing of Ceremony’s Zoo, and of course the snarling, proto-punk/classic rock hybrid of the Men’s Open Your Heart.
Miami's Torche have spent the bulk of their career in transition, whether moving among labels, cutting and recruiting members, or flipping from pop-metal to instrumental sludge cascades. Their third album, Harmonicraft, is a summation of in-flux firsts: This is Torche's first full-length since the wonderful 2008 breakthrough, Meanderthal. It's also their first for Volcom Entertainment after stints on Hydra Head, Robotic Empire, and Rock Action.
Harmonicraft, the third full-length from Torche, is less interesting as an album than it is as an augur of some vague, underdefined cultural shift. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t satisfy on a purely musical level; quite the contrary: Harmonicraft is a short, sweet collection of pop-metal confectionery, irresistible if not unforgettable. Torche’s particular sound is rooted in sludge and doom sub-genres, but their chords move upward, skyward, on a grand scale.
As a metal band, Torche exists paradoxically. The band puts rainbows on their album cover and sets their name in a pink typeface. Their music sounds happy instead of pissed. The band’s tattoo-less, ordinary-looking members aren’t interested in gory imagery (read: Slayer) or acting like mongoloid tough guys (read: Metallica); instead, Torche plays metal because playing metal is fun.
The dudes in Orlando sludge-pop quartet Torche brand their music as “rips with a smile.” It’s a fitting description: This is a band that is undeniably rooted in the churning fervor of the Melvins and Corrosion Of Conformity (the latter of which Torche is currently on tour) but also supplants the genre’s perfunctory gloom with glee. Just look at the artwork for the band’s latest LP, Harmonicraft. No pentagrams or sacrificial lambs here; just some peculiar, candy-gobbling, rainbow-puking beasts.
On this third LP, Torche have found the great songs to match their extraordinary sound. Alex Deller 2012 How many rock acts can you genuinely say started to sound better once they cleaned up their act and got a little slicker? If you’ve even bothered with this exercise then you’re probably staring furrow-browed at six, maybe seven grubby fingers, but with Harmonicraft you can now add Florida’s Torche to that paltry bunch of misfits. Long able to lay claim to the title of Heaviest Pop Band In The World, Torche have now found a replacement for errant guitarist Juan Montoya and taken newcomer Andrew Elstner onboard.
Certain bands are blessed with the ability to get substantially better and better with each consecutive release, and Miami's Torche are one of them. Harmonicraft is the group's full-length follow-up to 2008's acclaimed Meanderthal, and they've once again surpassed expectations, while distancing themselves from the realm of stoner and sludge metal to more of a spacey doom-pop sound. Self-produced and mixed by Converge's Kurt Ballou, Harmonicraft is filled with catchy hooks and pop melodies, as well as progressive, atmospheric rhythms.
If Baroness began metaldom as Mastodon Jr., consider Torche its younger bro. While third full-length Harmonicraft doesn't boast the same master craftsmanship as Baroness' third disc Yellow & Green, the Miami quartet's indie rock crossover matches up no less seamlessly. Torche's 2008 master class, second album Meanderthal, began at prog metal and closed as a mind-blowing stoner maelstrom.
Harmonicraft's cover is awash with illustrations of mythical creatures vomiting rainbows. On a purely aesthetic level it is kitsch and ridiculous… and indeed, a preliminary listen might indicate that the contents correlate to the cover. Massive Brian May style guitar solos, that QOTSA/Foo Fighters brand of heavy-handed stadium rock drumming, the rousing melodic vocals.