Torche - Harmonicraft (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Harmonicraft (2012)


On record, Songs For Singles was the finest Torche release to date. It found the band focusing its sludge metal drones into something a little more radio-friendly, hence the title. It would have been one of the best releases of 1993, had it not been released in 2010. But live, Singles didn't quite jive with Torche's older material. The songs were streamlined, but somewhat lacking in dynamics compared to Meanderthal or Torche.

Harmonicraft, then, earns the title of "best Torche release yet" by comprising everything that made old Torche stuff great, while still incorporating the alt-rock lessons learned on Singles. These tunes are alternately sludgy, drony and riffy, but got-damn are they still infectious. As great as Singles turned out--and it was pretty fucking great--Harmonicraft still makes it feel like a trial run.

"Letting Go" kicks off the record with an infectious guitar hook and propulsive percussion before a second hook, this one from the vocals, kicks in. It's pretty darn metal. "Kicking" keeps that energy up before "Walk It Off" just up and explodes with a dirty little guitar solo. Harmonicraft is laced with insistent numbers like these.

Of course, the record is many things over the course of its 37-minute running time. Tracks like "Reverse Inverted," "Roaming" and "Solitary Traveler" have a more droning, atmospheric quality. As tightly wound as the album gets overall, Torche still finds room to jam. You'd think the shift wouldn't mix well here, especially since that's what happened to the Singles material in concert, but on Harmonicraft, the two styles end up creating a nice push/pull dynamic. Individual songs don't have a quiet/loud orchestration, but when played in sequence, it sure feels that way.

For all its stabs at expanse, Harmonicraft is still a lean record. The songs never get too technical to the point of being masturbatory, nor so simple as to appear cobbled together. Really, new listeners could start with anything in Torche's discography, but Harmonicraft might be the best starting point, if only because A) it encompasses "new" and "old" Torche so well and B) it's really, really good.