The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts March 10, 2006

Miami Band Torche Ignites Fiery Devotion with Debut
Musical Colossus: Genre-straddling Torche sound even better live.

Having toured with the likes of Coliseum, Daughters, The Sword and Mogwai, the sternum-crushingly heavy four-piece Torche from Miami has carved out a unique place for itself with its equally unique mixture of thick-as-fudge riffage and soaring, anthemic melodies. In doing so, the group has managed to not only straddle the lines between the hardcore, metal and indie worlds, but perhaps bridge the gaps as well.

Formed from the ashes of singer/guitarist Steve Brooks and lead guitarist Juan Montoya’s previous group Floor (which similarly combined poppy melodies and metal riffs into a potent blend), Torche’s self-titled debut may surprise listeners with just how fully formed and focused it is. The most obvious point of comparison would probably be Queens of the Stone Age; but QOTSA tends to meander and get a little too wrapped in studio tricks for their own good. Torche is as concise as humanly possible; never does the group leave a single loose string untied.

Although the group occasionally dips a little too deeply into what might be described as Foo Fighters-lite on songs like “Erase” and “Fire” (and their attempts at artiness usually aren’t successful — see the blissed-out interlude “F*ck Addict” (the chorus is a keeper, though) and the nine-minute closing tracks as examples), I found that Torche was at its most potent when it lay down the bong-rattling riffs while slowly stitching simple but effective melodies to the lining of your cerebellum.

The first three tracks are essential: the sublimely sludgy “Charge of the Brown Recluse” (check out that truly “brown” note in the main riff); the manic drumming of “Safe” and my personal favorite cut from the album, “Mentor.”

Its main ascending riff is so catchy you can’t help but absorb the song’s molasses-slow rhythm (and that guitar solo right before the last chorus is inhumanly righteous) into your body while the lyrics — a not-so-oblique ode to the joys of S&M — simply beg to be scrawled above some seedy rest stop bathroom in the middle of Oklahoma: “This little piggy likes electrocution/burn my lips with your sweet transfusion/I will be your mentor.”

“Vampyro” and “Rockit” are also excellent songs, illustrating Torche’s uncanny knack for melding ferocious blasts of metal with a pop sensibility for which most mainstream acts would trade half of their iTunes store royalties.

While one of the more popular trends in the experimental metal community seems to be reveling in 20 minute songs that build up to garish climaxes (a style pioneered by groups like Neurosis, Pelican and Isis and perpetuated by what my friend described as ‘Neur-is-ican’ groups like Rosetta, Conifer and Belegost), the fact that Torche is making what is essentially experimental metal music without resorting to this tactic is alone worthy of kudos.

One listen to the precision with which the group enacts its destruction and it’s plain to see why Torche has been a band on everyone’s lips these days. Oh, and their live act? They’re another beast entirely!


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