Words: Simon Opie
Torche - 'Songs For Singles' (Release: 22 Sept '10)
If you want to know why Torche have such a devoted following then watch the video for 'King Beef' below, their contribution to the recent split release, 'Chapter Ahead Being Fake', with Boris, the mighty noise/grunge Japanese metal band.
'Songs For Singles', an 8 track EP(/album?), isn’t quite in the same class as 2008’s 'Meanderthal', their last full-length. For a start they are now a three piece - since guitarist Juan Montoya quit the band - and 'King Beef' was the first recording to feature the three-man line-up of Steve Brooks (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Nuñez (bass), and Rick Smith (drums). 'Songs for Singles' features material that was intended to be the follow-up to 'Meanderthal' that somehow never got made.
The first six songs are really fragments and the real value of the EP is in the last two tracks – 'Face The Wall' (easily my favourite) and 'Out Again' (seemingly the fans’ favourite). These last two are certainly some of the band’s best work, although the drum sound is very poorly produced and in fact the whole EP is a somewhat slapdash affair. Having said that, Torche are one of those bands who seem to be able to do no wrong, and the general reception for the EP has been positive.
The official reason for its release is that the band failed to develop vocal tracks to put onto the music they had recorded for their next LP and so this EP was released "in the interests of time" - but I’m sure there’s more to the story. Their label, Hydra Head Records put out a version of the first track, 'UFO' with a David Lee Roth vocal track on it a while back and without the band’s knowledge or permission. Which is bizarre to say the least. So we can maybe expect to see Torche move labels in the near future.
One of the reasons for Torche’s popularity and critical indulgence is that what they are trying to do in merging a brand of stoner/noise metal with melodic rock songs is quite difficult. Other bands in this same vein – Grails and The Melvins for instance – enjoy similar status. When it works, the music is really engaging and this EP certainly has enough good things on it to make do, but only the pre-initiated will enjoy it to its fullest.
'Songs For Singles' was released on September 22nd on Hydra Head Records. Download a free 16 track album featuring Torche and Boris from Adult Swim.
BUY: Amazon.co.uk (MP3) // Amazon.co.uk (CD) // Amazon.com (MP3) // Amazon.com (CD)