Ah, Torche. For the past 15 years, the Miami band have been pounding out what they like to call “thunder pop,” a beautiful, warm, smiley mash-up of thunderously heavy stoner/sludge riffs and straight-up pop sensibilities that both renders confusion and utter delight. It’s this fresh approach that has kept them apart from their stoner peers and let them rise to the top of a monolithic mountain that is 100% their own; in their own words: “in a world of Sabbaths, we get to be Van Halen.” It is this fruit salad of sounds that we get with their new album, Admission, an absolutely strong and vibrant record that might just be their crowning glory.
As underground as they still are, the album (stream on all platforms and pre-order here) plays like a stadium rock collection of songs that rumble with bass-swathed, bottom-heavy balls and upbeat melodies, kind of like Kyuss meets Foo Fighters with a kick up the bum from Floor - you can just picture the wide smiles on their faces as they lay down the monster grooves and bang their heads. There is also such a warm vibe throughout, mostly due to the interaction between the players and the super-balanced production, a blanket of lush sounds and colours that instantly draw the listener in. Basically, it makes you feel all cuddly and snug and still kicks your ass. Like a Care Bear with a bad attitude.
Bathe your eyes and ears in the gleeful pool that is the video for “Admission” here:
One of the first things that struck me was the vocal similarity between Steve Brooks and Snake from Voivod - in fact, this whole album itself shares a kinship with their oddball, fabulous Angel Rat record from 1991 that shook the traditional thrash Voivod fanbase by adding in elements of ‘70s prog, lush refrains, and major scale delights. It is Steve’s vocals that drive the hooky choruses and snake-like lyrical rabbit holes all the way through, but the rumbling, dirty bass of Andres Ascanio really drives and earths every single piece of music on show here. Granted, this is standard in the fuzzy stoner universe, but the sound he gets is beyond deep and swollen with chewy, sumptuous groove, most notably on “Submission” and “Infierno.”
The guitars, as always for Torche, are laced with toasty distortion and spaced-out dissonance, trading on repetition and solid furrows to build up riffs that are so tight, they couldn’t be shifted by a twister. And the drums, well... Bill Ward has competition in the swinging groove department. This is a band at the top of their game, and they shine with every glorious minute of doomy bliss.
Care Bears with bad attitudes? Maybe. Either way, these are the men of Torche:
Admission is the Torche album that will finally get a criminally underrated band the recognition they sorely deserve. There’s not a wasted minute on the album, not an inch of filler, not even a time when you will think that they don’t know exactly what they’re after. It is, in a word, HUGE. If it doesn’t make everybody’s top 5 albums of 2019 list, then y’all need your heads read. It’s that bloody good.
Admission Track Listing:
01. From Here
04. What Was
05. Times Missing
08. Extremes Of Consciousness
09. On The Wire
11. Changes Come
Run Time: 36 minutes Release Date: July 12, 2019 Record Label: Relapse Records