Artwork by John Santos
Torche is one of my favorite sludge metal bands. I really like their sound.
I was quite fond of their last album, even though it turned a lot of people off due to the addition of synths and a pop like vibe to the album, but that didn’t really bother me as I thought that was what Torche was all about and it was a pretty fun and energetic piece of music. I was expecting more of the same from them this time as well, but I guess things are not always how they seem.
Torche have always been known for bringing a more easy going “happy” side to sludge metal, which is more at home with Smashing Pumpkins and Mudhoney than Eyehategod and Crowbar(or even early Mastodon for that matter) , although they are not the only band who is doing that, maybe not even the first, in my opinion they do this the best. Over here I can see(or hear in this case ) that the band wants to move away from that , yet still hold on to its roots. This time around Torche lose much of their frantic positive energy to slow hypnotic guitar riffs that build up slowly as the song progresses. This can be exemplified in Annihilation Affair and Barrier Hammer both of which have some really harsh noisy rumbling bass guitar which I didn’t expect from Torche at all. Indeed there are quite a few faster tracks here as well like Loose Men and Undone which also has some of that crushing bass guitar, but these seem to be more of a distraction this time. The production itself is much more gritty than their other albums. Now I like the fact that the band is trying to sound different with every release, I even enjoyed their doom-ier songs, but this direction puts them in a very precarious position, as what they are doing here can be found in so many other sludge bands today. While trying to evolve they have lost so much of what was truly their own.
All in all , this made me really miss Harmonicraft and Meanderthal and head back to those albums. Torche is in a very interesting place right now, they are about to burst open and evolve into something new, maybe something revolutionary. It’s just that I am not really sure if I am ready for that.