Floor - Oblation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Oblation (2014)

Season of Mist

For years, the narrative went like this: After toiling in relative obscurity with his underrated pop-metal band, Floor, Steve Brooks finally broke through to a larger audience by continuing his style with the band Torche. One begat the other, and there was much rejoicing. Even when Floor reunited in 2010 for a string of successful shows, they still fit that construct. So for Floor to actually stick around long enough for a much belated sophomore album, Oblation, and for that album to actually be just as good as anything in Torche's discography, is A) cool and B) possibly unprecedented.

Look, I'm a huge fan of both bands, but even I was skeptical as to how Floor would be able to distinguish itself from Torche. Both groups craft hooky, riffy, occasionally sludgy metal that borders on alternative. Their songs are super heavy, but you could play them for non-metalheads and probably score some high-fives. The differences, while few, are crucial.

Overall, you could listen to Oblation and Torche's Harmonicraft back-to-back without any jarring, potentially life threatening effects. But you have to remember, Torche has gradually evolved into a faster, more frenetic beast since its eponymous debut. Oblation feels almost like a reset. It's more monolithic, more droning, more spacious than the last few Torche releases. It is more headbangable. It sounds like the work of a power trio, as of opposed to Torche's four-piece.

Tellingly, the title track proclaims "Why change at all / Remember." Brooks has said in interviews that lyrics are an afterthought for him (the song does also begin with "The end O," after all), but c'mon. This first song is a statement of purpose, and it's pretty obliterating to boot. "Rocinante" is faster like a Torche song, but the riffage is colossal. That song is an outlier, however. The record tends towards slow chuggers and wide open drum beats. It welcomes drones and feedback.

Basically, Floor lets the songs breathe a bit more. And while that makes them feel somewhat dialed down compared to Torche's creative run, it also lends an interesting contrast. I'm not sure Torche post-Songs For Singles would ever attempt an epic mindblower like "Sign of Aeth." Nor would they let a single riff dominate the way it does on, say, "New Man."

Perhaps it's unfair to continually compare Floor to Torche. Instead, maybe we should focus on the fact that we get even more sick nasty riffs from Brooks and settle for loving both bands. Floor is no longer Torche's prologue, and a new narrative where they coexist is forming.