A metal band in aesthetic, boasting some of the burliest low-end and most pummeling riffs ever to emerge from the Sunshine State, Torche is essentially a rock ‘n’ roll band at heart. The Florida trio (formerly a quartet) made a strong case for the commingling of metal’s heaviness and alt-rock hooks on their excellent 2008 album Meanderthal. They displayed the arena-sized appeal of Foo Fighters on “Across the Shields,” and the visceral groove of Queens of the Stone Age on “Healer,” all the while cramming everything from punk rock to doom metal to psychedelia in the album’s remaining 30 minutes. Essentially, anyone who ever had an affection for any kind of music with loud, distorted guitars should find few obstacles toward loving this band.
Yet while the arena and alt-rock aesthetic of Torche are frequently referenced, the band also has an undeniable punk rock spirit. There’s an urgency to there music, the kind of barreling power that gets where it wants to go without wasting a precious second. And as a result, very little time actually is wasted. More than half of Meanderthal‘s songs fell below the three-minute mark, and about half of those were less than two minutes. But with their latest, Songs For Singles, they’ve trimmed even more excess, delivering an eight-song album (or EP? who knows anymore) in about 21 minutes.
The urgency is more palpable on Songs for Singles, not merely because of its brief duration, but due to the sheer velocity at which its songs travel. Leadoff track and first single “UFO” travels less like a flying saucer and more like a rocket, shooting directly toward the listener with maximum force and an undeniable melody. Likewise, 52-second wonder kicks up as much dust as possible within an extremely limited window, and “Hideaway” stacks high-speed riffs as it ascends toward a heavy chug of a chorus.
Mesmerizing and breakneck as the record’s first half is, it’s not until the final three tracks in which Torche draw their biggest weapons. “Cast Into Unknown” isn’t a drastic change of course, but contains the album’s strongest hooks, and lays down a path for the jaw-dropping epics that close out Songs for Singles. The first of those, “Face the Wall,” comes as a stunning surprise, a My Bloody Valentine-style shoegazer track, albeit one that swells and pounds with the kind of impact only a metal band could make. And closer “Out Again,” the longest track here at six minutes, and one of Torche’s longest songs ever, for that matter, is deceptively simple, yet brimming with awesome vocal harmonies and a warm and inviting density.
Melodic giants that they are, Torche aren’t interested in fucking around. Not a single minute is wasted here; Torche was clearly on a mission. In 21 all-too-brief minutes, the Miami trio drops eight of their catchiest tunes, one of their shortest and one of their longest, and a handful of their best. Mission accomplished.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.