Release DetailsLABEL Robotic Empire Records
RELEASED ON 4/20/2005
posted on 5/2005 By:
Boyohboyohboyohboy. Ladies, hold on to your skirts, this is going to knock you the fuck out. Having been a huge fan of Floor for the better part of my teenage life, I was certainly expecting a LOT from this effort, but not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined to be this loud, this catchy, this fearsomely HEAVY. FUCK!!!
If you were as big of a Floor fan as I was/am/will always be, I can tell you that the Torche formula effectively absorbs and harnesses ideas presented in both Floor full-lengths, polishing and varnishing them with a distinctive pop gloss that is utterly breathtaking. This Torche record, then, is to some degree a logical continuation of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Steve Brooks’ vision with his seminal project, downplaying the slothlike proto-sludge of the Dove record to extrapolate and magnify the sublime pop underpinnings of Floor’s self-titled masterpiece. That being said, though this is inarguably the catchiest work Steve has penned to date, do NOT expect a more subdued effort- this shit is simultaneously the most infectious and the HEAVIEST material Mr. Brooks has been responsible for to date. For a reference point, imagine Floor in the self-titled era playing through Matt Pike’s equipment…this record is obnoxiously loud, and makes absolutely no apologies for it whatsoever.
“Charge Of The Brown Recluse” kicks things off with a PUMMELING, sprawling, bass-driven groove lifted from the Dove songbook, a monolithic behemoth that has all the subtlety and grace of a marauding mastodon. Cue in the vocals- classic Steve Brooks, plenty of cool dual-layered melodies that draw plenty of parallels to Goatsnake’s Pete Stahl for their innate tunefulness. The song shifts through several monumental riffs and soaring hooks, juxtaposing obscenely overdriven walls of guitar with scintillating, disturbingly crisp vocals. “Safe” follows up in fine form, a frenetic mass of BREAKNECK double bass, hectic riffing and bestial bass that sounds like Unsane on fast forward. Before you have time to catch your breath, “Mentor” DECAPITATES you with a beautifully righteous main riff, a High On Fire steamroller that will tug your neck in every direction, reducing you to a slobbering mass of drool and hair. What results, of course, is 2 minutes and 22 seconds of molten, lysergic fucking bliss, an outrageously loud and audaciously heavy fireball of rock fury.
The classics don’t stop rolling- “Erase” has a driving synth-pop vibe that conveys a Royal Trux on amphetamines feeling, once again contrasting nosebleed-inducing, malevolently dense soundscapes with ornate instrumental flourishes and irrepressible vocal melodies. “Vampyro” has a quirky, tangential post-hardcore sensibility to it, like Bluetip or Jawbox playing Godheadsilo songs. “Fire” is absolutely MASSIVE, drawing very favorable comparisons with the like-minded, similarly (SEVERELY) underrated Karp, a minute long explosion of insistent, driving rhythms and urgent melodies hiding beneath sheaths of blaring noise. Check out the quasi-QOTSA hook section of “Fire”, the lumbering, roaring AmRep menace of “Holy Roar” and TESTIFY to the greatness of Torche!
Closer “The Last Word” takes a decidedly different direction from the rabidly intense material that preceded it, a moodier, sprawling and minimalistic number that builds from a sonic foundation of astral guitar noise and excruciatingly deliberate percussion, conclusively affirming that Brooks’ yen for slower, more ominously haunting sounds has yet to be quelled by his pop inclinations. To be sure, the final track is a tad awkward when placed in the grander context of the record, but when dissected on its own it is absolutely sublime, housing within its nine and a half minute span a series of ghostly sub-shoegazer textures, nailbitingly tense buildups and bruising crescendos. I could certainly have done without the two and a half minute worth of sustained chord at the end, but otherwise the track BEGS for repeat plays!
The production here is SPOT ON- the vocals sound fantastic, with just enough flangey effects applied to infuse them with an ethereal, stratospheric quality without making them sound overtly cybernetic or artificial. The bass is given a lot of emphasis here, employing a Lightning Bolt/Death From Above 1979 type importance in the mix, providing the propulsive thrust to many of the compositions, the bass’ suppleness supplemented by some very dynamic percussive work that alternates between being deliriously busy and restrained. I DEFINITELY appreciate the musicianship on offer here, everything functions flawlessly as a cog in the grander songwriting framework- while there’s certainly some virtuosity and mathiness latent within some of the playing here, and drummer Rick Smith sometimes seems like he’s about to spill all over the song, everybody plays within the confines of the track and does his part to add depth to the proceedings.
Perhaps the coolest feature of Torche is the brevity of their compositions- songs tend to range from 1 to 3 minutes here (with the obvious exception being the 9 minute closer). Ask any classic pop band (from Cheap Trick to The Replacements to Guided By Voices), and they’ll tell you that the basis of a great pop song is condensed, succinct songs ornamented with pronounced, muscular hooks. Acutely conscious of this, Brooks abbreviates each song into sporadic bursts of white hot energy, each of which is peppered with an infectious sing-along refrain that will overwhelm all your better reasonable faculties and have you chanting “Harakiri, missionary, vampires own the night!” as the riffs flay the skin off your face. Not since the self-titled Floor album has there been a pop record this insidious and this punishingly heavy. My only complaint is this record lasts but 29 minutes, but that’s hardly a complaint when you can spin it over…and over….and over….if you like Floor, Big Business, Lightning Bolt, Dove, Unsane, Karp, Part Chimp, the Melvins, you will FUCKING LOVE THIS.
Register to post comments.