Release Date: Sep 21, 2010
Record label: Hydra Head
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal
After Torche lost guitarist Juan Montoya shortly after the release of their benchmark album, Meanderthal, the metal world waited to see how doom’s most likable and upbeat band would shake out after the change. Torche’s response comes by way of Songs for Singles, an EP that shows that Steve Brooks and company are still able to crank out the massive, droning pop that everyone has come to expect from them. The loss of Montoya can certainly be heard on the album, as there’s a lack of the spacious guitar work that could be found all throughout their self-titled debut and Meanderthal, but Torche seem to be making the loss work for them.
There should be more bands like Torche. The Miami trio sits near the top of the underground-metal heap, but they're also the rare underground-metal band happy to come off as regular dudes rather than medieval warriors or swamp monsters. They churn out fuzz-rock bangers with mechanistic precision, never betraying any signs of pretension or mystique. Since the departure of guitarist Juan Montoya, they're an entirely short-haired band, and frontman Steve Brooks sings in a beer-belly bellow, not an elemental rasp.
One of the more innovative metal bands of the present day, Torche, has joined bands like Harvey Milk, Fucked Up and Screaming Females in looking for new wrinkles on hard rock. Meanderthal, the band's 2008 album, broke so many metal conventions that it's no wonder that Torche has yet to receive full appreciation in the metal community. With short songs, major tempos, lyrics more angelic than Satanic, and a sense of humor more cerebral than grotesque, Meanderthal still sounds pretty much unlike anything else in metal, which made a follow-up so crucial to the few who eventually heard and appreciated it.
Torche is an immensely likeable metal band. That could be largely because they deny being metal. Sure, they’re on Hydra Head, that venerable vestige of the sludgiest and the mathiest in metal’s underground. Your little sister might cover her ears at their muscular, down-tuned riffs, and ask if you could compromise on the National.
Torche aren’t exactly keen on playing by the rules For anyone familiar with the fiercely leftfield Hydra Head roster, it should come as no surprise that wily Floridians Torche aren’t exactly keen on playing by the rules. Case in point: choosing to follow 08’s monumental and much-lauded ‘Meanderthal’ with ‘Songs For Singles’, a brief, impetuous mini-album which brews up a veritable Creole gumbo of variations in focus, mood and feel over a mere eight tracks. That none of these tracks have actually been released as a single is neither here nor there, but the obtuse juxtaposition of mostly unrelated songs does make for a somewhat disconnected album, especially as the majority judder to a halt in an unexpectedly abrupt manner.
Noisy rock that your parents could love? It’s not right, but it is brilliant. Mike Diver 2010 While I appreciate that this is a rock review you’re reading, I must tell you that Torche rock like few other rockers do. Their rock, mighty though it certainly is, isn’t rock to run from if your MP3 player preferences are outfits of a rather more sedate nature.
Torche has slowly turned a corner. Beginning on 2005's self-titled bow, the Miami metalheads improved upon the sludge breakdown of their predecessors (like singer/guitarist Steve Brooks' semilegendary 1990s band Floor), with most songs hinging on the start-stop-annihilate formula. Meanderthal three years later found them ramping up tempos and experimenting with more anthemic structures.