Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Album of the Week - Torche "Meanderthal"

Wayne's Take

Somewhere near the middle of “Amnesian”, a dense, triumphant track from Torche’s beyond-excellent new album Meanderthal, the band, having slowly worked the listener into a lather that seems to have nowhere else it can possibly go, starts employing vocal harmonies that would sound sweet on their own, but in this context help the track crawl up, up, UP right into an explosive guitar solo that sends the song officially into the stratosphere. Torche’s brand of hook-infused stoner rock is often referred to as “thunder pop,” and a more perfect description of what this Miami quartet does so beautifully I could not conjure. These guys can rattle doom- loving bowels with the best of them, but front man Steve Brooks’ pop sense is unmistakable, and the group courted both sides quite well on 2005's self-titled debut and last year’s In Return EP. It was inevitable that at some point they’d make the kind of record that can please anyone who listens to any sub genre that ends in “rock.” And, boy, have they ever with Meanderthal. Fans of “___ meets ___” type descriptors for new music are going to have a field day with this one. Melvins meet Foo Fighters. Helmet meets Kyuss. Cheap Trick meets Black Sabbath. Heavy meets poppy.

Which is not to say there's anything calculated about the album. Far from it. This is one of those platters that bursts out of the gate with so much energy, focus (this bad boy is done in about 35 minutes), density, and hooks that if you’re destined to love it all, you’ll fall for it instantly. (You’ll hear no “this is an album that takes some effort” out of me this time) I can’t think of a single situation where this record wouldn’t be embraced. Metalheads will love the guitar hero horns-in-the-air moments and the sheer WEIGHT of it all. Arena rock fans will respond to the big sing-along-worthy choruses. Headphone-listening production nerds have a full album’s worth of deeply textured layers to bask in--thanks to Converge’s Kurt Ballou, whose production here might be his best work behind the boards yet. And I’m pretty sure that if you play “Healer” at a large gathering, you’ll get more than one gleefully anticipatory “Who IS this???”

There’s no telling what Torche has in store for them after hearing this. Even though they travel in the same neo-metal fraternity as Baroness , ISIS, and The Sword, I can just as easily see them opening for U2 or Pearl Jam, and still managing to retain their underground cred. Meanderthal is so approachable and yet hits all of the perfect heavy metal moves, that there’s no end to the doors that Torche can enter now. I can’t wait to see which one they choose.

Mark's take--

First off, I always love it when Wayne says he has found his early pick for album of the year. Mainly, because sometimes B'wayne-o and I sometimes disagree on stuff musically. (i.e Anselmo) I fucking love it when we do, too. Basically, because we're both not assholes about it.

This time, however, I agree with him. after a couple listens to this, this has ALL the markings of an album of the year. It's confident, hook-y as hell, and powerful. Plus the run time isn't too dramatic that would make this album possible taxing. Like some albums do. Albums that I love, of course, but sometimes a too-long album can be...well, taxing.

It opens with a bang. Guitar work that clearly shows that these guys were Maiden fans growing up. At first I was a little put off at the similarities of their vocal sound being very reminiscent of a fave of this site Baroness. Just the cadences and stuff, but then I realized, "Hey, I love Baroness, so who the fuck cares?" They have their own groove, and are actually a bit poppier than Baroness, which I admit, I am digging the shit out of. The third song, Piranha, kind of reminds me of a hook from one of my favorite bands Myracle Brah. The song "Orange Shirt" should have been huge. don't know why it wasn't....I love how Wayne's favorite song is "Healer." Mine is the one directly after that, "Across the Shields." The chord structure in that song is so beautiful and Devin-worthy. (Devin Townsend. Check him out) That is a jam worthy of ANY mix tape you could make for a co worker. Hell, might as well put "Healer" on there before it. Hopefully, they will do both in order live. One can dream. Like when Y & T did Lipstick and leather into Don't stop running? I almost dropped a loaf. And how embarrassed would I have been then? Anyway.

This album is solid,tight, and right. Any fan of Rock would be hard pressed to not get into this. I tell ya what, Put down that cope of Linkin Park's latest bull shit and hear what rock really is sounding like these days. You'll thank me. Us. Thank Torche, they did it, not me.

As for the album of the year? I can't call it this early. Because I know we have Mastodon and SlipKnot coming out with new albums. And they both hold previous years' titles..... Plus, who knows who else will release something excellent........


crustcake gerf said...

Hell yes, Wayne! This album kicks so much ass... maybe a little TOO much ass...

Wayne said...

There's no such thing as kicking too much ass!