In college, I befriended a group of metal DJs from the local radio station. Hanging out in the studio listening to their radio show was rarely thrilling for me, a wussy pop lover. It seemed that the only band we could all agree on was Torche. Their stoner metal sound appealed to the metalheads but their commitment to pop songwriting appealed to me. On their third album, Harmonicraft, their commitment to both are still in full effect.
The first three tracks on Harmonicraft are among the best three songs that Torche has ever written. The trinity begins with “Letting Go,” a pop song that sounds much more like Motorhead than Melvins. The second track, “Kicking” is probably the highlight of the album and a contender for song of the year. The track shows off Steve Brooks’ incredible voice which has the crooning sound of Bob Nana with the tenor of Josh Homme. The wall-of-guitar sound makes the track seem heavy but really it is a pop song with driving drums at its core.
The trifecta ends with “Walk It Off,” the first legitimately heavy track of the record. The track opens with a blazing guitar riff that builds the anticipation for the shredding guitar solo. Unfortunately the track clocks in at just under two minutes.
The rest of the record pales in comparison to the first three tracks, although it matches Torche’s previous output. “Reverse Inverted” is a more typical stoner metal track, appropriate to slowly headbang to. The same can be said for the nearly six minute album closer, “Looking On.”
While the stoner metal tracks are satisfactory, they are not necessarily gratifying after the blazing start to the album. The album will rack up some end of the year accolades, and for good reason. Even if Harmonicraft is not Torche’s best album, it is surely one of the best hard rock albums of the year.
MP3: Torche “Letting Go”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl