23 April 2012
by David Keevil
When an album comes along that fits so inherently into the stride of your life, it’s often difficult to tell whether it’s because it’s so inconspicuous that it barely registers or that it’s a monumental moment in the history of your consumption of music. Harmonicraft, the third studio album by Torche, undeniably falls into the latter bracket.
Easily pushing the boundary between hooks and progression, this is an album that groans with the weight of its conviction. It’s not just that that everything feels so effortless with Torche, it’s also the fact that this is music that stands so strongly as an example of how to marry the interesting with the complicated, in such a way that it’s difficult to see how you could tire of the record on repeated listens.
The sound on Harmonicraft is remarkably distinct, especially so for an album that wears its influences quite so obviously; there are smouldering grooves that bear homage to the likes of Kyuss and its desert/stoner progeny, and there are also anthemic moments that smack of Dave Grohl’s finest work with the Foo Fighters. Some songs even perch of the edge of Mastodon’s universe, groaning with the crusted sawing of guitars, spindly riffs, soaring solos and shifting, obscure themes.
Torche have also mastered a sound that doesn’t rely on being feral to express their attachments to metal. This is an album that screams of interesting, engaging music first and foremost, with “metal” coming in as some distant second. Despite that, Harmonicraft actually houses some of the best aspects of the genre; ‘Reverse Inverted’ is thunderous, and the vocals smoulder with inflections of malice, without ever sounding too desperate or contrived.
Watch Torche playing live at the Volcom “Free Beer Party”. Yes, this exists:
Lyrically and vocally, Torche sound like they owe some grand debt to Nothing’s Shocking-era Jane’s Addiction, because of the scintillating and fluctuating interplay between the words and the music. There is a grand rock heritage to this record of such vast and disparate ancestry that fortunately doesn’t ever tie Torche down to one place.
What’s more, when the album looks to be settling into its pace, it then rollicks into some other insatiable groove or rides like some hellspawn from the mouth of Erebus (see ‘Walk It Off’ and ‘Skin Moth’). You’d be hard pushed to find a record in recent times that pushes you into such interesting and progressive territories, without ever obviously alerting you to the fact.
Sounds Like: Kyuss, Foo Fighters, Mastodon.
Standout Tracks: Roaming, Reverse Inverted, Solitary Traveler.