Torche are one of the greatest things to happen to heavy music in the past ten years. Initially labeled a metal band, the Miami trio have pushed the boundaries of the genre far beyond its comfort zone, incorporating stoner riffs, early 90’s indie rock, 60’s psych, stadium rock of the 70’s, and a heavy slab of… catchy pop hooks! Defying any singular categorization and tired of the labels placed upon them, 2008 saw the release of their sophomore album Meanderthal, a benchmark in the indie metal world, widely praised and beloved by both critics and fans. Torche quickly became the blueprint of a new sound; the juxtaposition of heavy and catchy, free of all metal’s gimmicks and indie rock’s pretension. Since that release, Torche have parted ways with long time guitarist Juan Montoya, and traveled the globe with an Earth-shaking live show as both a trio and with a temporary second guitarist. Their genre-bending sound has allowed them to tour with a diverse range of bands from Dredg and Circa Survive to High on Fire and Pelican, and regardless of audience, Torche have come out blaring on all ends with music you can bang your head to with a smile on your face. The band have returned with Songs For Singles, an EP clocking in just over twenty one minutes, wasting no time unleashing their aural assault as they prove their early praise was no mere fluke. Fair warning, when this album comes to an end, you’re going to want to hit the replay.
From the initial crash of first single “U.F.O.” it’s obvious Torche are back to doing what they do best, thanks to sub sonic riffs, pummeling rhythms, and Steve Brooks’ bright shimmering vocal melodies. The song rips forward with massive momentum, encompassing the listener in its grasp before wrapping up as quickly as it began. In under a minute, “Lay Low,” manages to lock into a tight groove, vary in texture, and provide all the elements of a great Torche song. Brevity is one of the many strong suits of the band, and it is certainly working in their favor. While I would personally love to hear expanded versions of these first two tracks, the musical ideas are fully realized, stampeding in short and effective bursts of melodic fury. “Hideaway” continues the rapid paced action, with a crunchy low tuned guitar riff that finds room to expand sonically over the harsh rhythmic rumble. “Arrowhead” thrives on a monolithic storm of low end thanks to Rick Smith’s bruising drum fills and Jonathan Nuñez’s hypnotic bass line. “Shine On My Old Ways” is brooding and sludgy with an infectious vocal melody, covering a substantial amount of ground between indie guitar rock and doom metal all under two minutes time. Torche make this work with concise songs that deliver where they need to and guarantee to never overstay their welcome. “Cast Into Unknown” soars with an upbeat melody that shines brightly through the heavy noise and distortion. One of the definite stand-outs, the song drifts into a solo that speaks to the essence of Torche; creative rock music that can be equally appreciated by fans of Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. alike.
While the first six tracks of Songs For Singles roar by in the span of a blurry eleven minutes, it appears Torche have saved the best for last, opting for two epic songs that together comprise half of the album’s length. Washes of guitar feedback and reverb immediately soak into “Face The Wall,” a respite from the insistent speed leading up to this point. There is an undeniable focus on texture, as guitars and bass blend together into an atmospheric wall of sound devouring all in its path. Brooks’ vocals are entrancing as he commands enormous melodic control, and the entire band slowly rises from triumphant crawl into explosive noise. “Out Again” is the type of album closer that you have to believe the entire record was simply building up to. With glorious guitar melodies and an easy going upbeat rhythm, the song blisters with sunny hypnotic beauty, releasing the tension of their concise songwriting and just letting the riffs expand. The tone of distortion is significantly less heavy, more tuned into the alternative rock of the 90’s then anything metal, and Torche sound free and comfortable. Songs For Singles finds solid ground between their frantic annihilation and extended indie voyages, as Torche remain at the top of their genre, whichever that may be.
STREAM THE ENTIRE ALBUM HERE.