huge thanks to Austin Ray, Andrew Earles, and the entire Paste Magazine staff!
Band of the Week: Torche
Writer: Andrew Earles
Feature, Published online on 14 Apr 2008
Hometown: Miami, Fla./Atlanta, Ga.
Fun Fact: The album art for the band's latest, Meanderthal, depicts several mildly menacing but benevolently furry creatures drawn by guitarist Juan Montoya. A closer look reveals that each beast is a caricature of one of Torche's members.
Why Its Worth Watching: With sheer volume, force and catchy hooks, Torche brandishes a heart stopping live show that shames all bands unlucky enough to share its bill.
For Fans Of: Jesu, Foo Fighters, Melvins, Queens of the Stone Age
Pummeling, earth-shattering noise married to gorgeous melodies: It’s the golden egg so many underground acts have searched for, but only a handful have had the chops to pull off. Sonic Youth has made a career of the combination, My Bloody Valentine collapsed under an obsessive perfection of it, and the extreme metal and hardcore scenes of the '90s splintered into innumerable sub-genres, many of which put pop hooks in the strangest places.
Miami’s Floor formed in the mid '90s and spent the next 10 years perfecting a marriage of sludgy, mile-thick Melvins-inspired doom riffs and soaring vocal hooks that could have been lifted from Guided By Voices, The Beach Boys or Ride. Guitarist Juan Montoya hailed from the now-exalted Cavity, one of the better '90s combinations of Black Sabbath and deafening hardcore, and his last-minute membership in Floor led to the formation of Torche. “I’ve known Steve [Brooks, Floor/Torche guitarist/vocalist] since the early '90s,” Montoya explains. “I ended up joining Floor towards the end, and what I brought to the table sort of twisted things around. Steve decided we needed to start fresh, so that’s how Torche started. It has that Floor sound, but we’re big fans of melodic music. I can only take so much screaming.”
Torche has refined Floor’s approach with a self-titled full length (Robotic Empire, 2005), a 10” EP, In Return (Robotic Empire, 2006) and the brand new Meanderthal (Hydrahead, April 8). The latter establishes Torche as arguably the leading contender for the Heaviest Pop Band In The World crown. Whereas former Torche tourmate Justin Broadrick of Jesu reached new audiences by giving his music a great big shot of sugary shoegazer beauty, Torche puts an approachable rock 'n' roll face on this direction.
Meanderthal will go down as Torche’s breakthrough album without question. The crushing intensity of “Speed of Nails” recalls Helmet at its heaviest, then gives way to “Healer,” a song that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Foo Fighters record. The band’s eclectic taste and love of music shines through its dense, steamrolling attack. “Steve and I are the older guys in the band,” Montoya admits. “We grew up listening to so much. I saw My Bloody Valentine play with Dinosaur Jr in the early '90s. It was so loud. When that tour came to Orlando, I remember seeing the guitarist from (Floridian death-metal icon) Obituary there. I like that; people who make heavy music that are really open-minded.”
Torche backs up its recorded attack with a live show like no other. Reliably louder even, than the heavy bands it's toured with (Jesu, Big Business), live Torche shakes the rafters and moves air. “There’s something about just turning up and letting the white noise and rhythm take over, so that it almost has an industrial feel,” Montoya says. “I love that. Not to sound egotistical, but if I wasn’t in this band, if I was in the audience, I would love it. This would be exactly the type of band I’d want to see live.”
Stream Meanderthal in its entirety here.