Friday, 25 May 2012


Artist: Torche
Album: Harmonicraft
Release Date: 24/4/2012

The stoner- metal stalwarts' third is a thrilling exercise in euphoria

Since the turn of the century, aside from the evolution of Heavy Metal music which extends back decades beforehand, the seemingly casual norm amongst a wealth of metal bands has been to re- write the consitutional laws that can be applied to metal, almost to the point where certain tomes by bands like Ulver and Sunn0))) do not willingly reside within the bracket itself. In the same context of sonic shifts, it's not like melody has never taken precendence in metal music before, but even by today's standards to take glistening melodies and near pop sensibilities after years of bludgeoning heaviosity, as Torche have done on their third full- length "Harminocraft" is a brave move, and to the most hard hearted recesses of the metal community, rigidly taboo.

Members of such recesses may well turn their noses up at even the mention of "Harmonicraft", which is rich in sugary euphoria and consequetively grandiose hooks, something that will come as a mighty surprise to fans of their previous output. Nevertheless, it's brimming with full- throttle intensity, an undeniable pace and the same layers of dense production and thick distortion that metal, and notably Torche's music, usually relies on for sheer power. Whereas usually that same power is balanced out by interspersed moments of weirdness, on "Harmonicraft" it's balanced out by pop tendencies. And what a thrilling ride it is too.

"Letting Go", the album's opening short but compelling blast, is full of enormous tribal drum patterns which roll around the gargantuan backdrop helpfully set in stone by the production, meaning that even whilst the lead guitar line glitters and soars it still sounds suitably meaty. "Kicking" is the album's infectious power- pop rush, easily applicable to something that the Foo Fighters or a slightly heavier "Only Revelations"- era Biffy Clyro would do. It's hugely anthemic and even has a tinge of summery reverb in the chorus. "Walk It Off" is a ferocious break- neck punk thrash, but even at its relentlessly pulse- quickening pace nothing is detached from its harmonious rush.

"Snakes Are Charmed" begins with a towering arpeggio that sparkles with virtuosity before leading into the album's most affecting guitar lead section in the bridge. "Solitary Traveler" is majestic, like an arms- aloft stoner- metal ballad produced by Simon Neill with a heavy synth fog having over it in none- too- cringeworthy dramatic pose.

There are moments where remnants of Torche's former sound return to the fore, but that is no bad thing. "Reverse Inverted" is a mammoth Sabbathian trundle, whilst closer "Looking On" is the closest they get to replicating their former sonic pastures. It's mournful and ominous, but at the same time the chords have a sense of heartfelt epicness to them.

"Harmonicraft" is incendiary not because of any out and out genius or bright sparks of intensely skilled musicianship, but its marriage of punishing heaviness and escalating hooks is electrifying and memorable without ever being overly complex. Even if it doesn't appeal to that stone cold few, it rings with conviction and ultimately unashamed self- belief. It may not be as "boundary pushing" as much of what we've come to expect from experimentalism in Metal, but it's a monstrously enjoyable ride all the same.

Download: 1) Walk It Off, 2) Kicking, 3) Solitary Traveler, 4) Snakes Are Charmed
For Fans Of: Mastodon, Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro


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