Torche - Torche (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Torche (2005)

Robotic Empire

I'm glad Torche exists. I'm glad they write sludge pop metal tunes. I'm glad they can so effortlessly toss off songs. But mostly, I'm just glad they exist. Founded from the ashes of the similarly heavy, grooving Floor, Torche announced themselves to the world with this, a 2005 self-titled record. While follow-up Meanderthal gets all the love (and deservedly so), Torche is a strong opening shot.

If you want the most literal representation of how Torche built on Floor's sound, consider opening track "Charge of the Brown Recluse," which began life as a Floor track ("Fire," originally called "Ignis," is also given an update). After some bits of audio sound (Floor loved samples), the track explodes into a dirge. Here's your best illustration of frontman/guitarist Steve Brooks evolution as a songwriter: Floor loved to get heavy and instrumental; Torche shoots to kill.

The record knocks out hit after hit, but it still comes off as a lot slower, even jammier, compared to where Torche went later. New record Harmonicraft has some lengthy sound experiments in its second half, but they don't come much more epic than Torche's "The Last Word." That one is nine-and-a-half minutes of blasting, nigh psychedelic guitar riffage.

The other big distinction between Torche then and now: The production isn't quite on par. This band benefits from reverb, and there's not quite enough of that on display here. Torche has a very dry, unflashy production, which is fine, but it dials down the sludge a bit in the process. As heavy as the record gets, Torche would go on to even heavier depths in just a few short years.

Then again, we're talking about the first Torche record. For all the small quibbles, there's an awful lot the band got right on their first try. Floor took a long time to arrive at their sound; Torche feel as if they emerged fully formed, and they've only gotten better since then.