When Miami, Florida-based Torche rolled through Seattle in the midst of a (comparatively mild) heat wave, they may not have realized how appropriate their down-tuned, sludge-mired, sonic-depressant music was to our reeling brains. It’s no secret that Pacific North-westerners are babies when it comes to any degree of severe weather, but gathering at Chop Suey on July 2 to be oppressed simultaneously by the sticky, stagnant air and deep, bone-rattling guitars seemed somehow appropriate.
When Torche broke into their first song—the lead track from their new album Restarter titled “Annihilation Affair”—you could feel the physical symptoms of their roaring sound compounded with the already present early symptoms of heat stroke. The vicious guitar rumble makes your teeth buzz and the dizziness in your head almost enjoyable. With every assault from that metallic bass drum you can feel every joint cavity in your weary body pulsating. The song is as relentless as the heat and represents a shift in the band’s sound since their last album Harmonicraft. It seems the band is moving back toward the style Torche members Steve Brooks and Juan Montoya fashioned in the ’90s with their band Floor. After a strange detour in Harmonicraft through what can only be described as “doom pop,” the band is returning to its roots by relying less on melody and more on pattern.
Mid-set, the band fell into the song “Minions,” a standout track on the new album that cops Floor’s old style effectively while also seeming to evoke Electric Wizard with its occult lyrics (“Come my minions” vs. Come My Fanatics…). The song eventually melts into an airy space-rock solo that hovers delicately over the yawning morass of sludge-licked guitars and surging drums. Definitely the highlight of the set and the closest I got to fainting.
To settle an obligation to fans of their last album, Torche eventually played the song “Kicking,” a fan favorite from Harmonicraft. I’ve already intimated at a bias I may have against this album, but here I’ll make it explicit: this song is butts. There is a glimmer of Floor’s sound in the song at certain points, but the majority is unrecognizable as the work of their previous members. Especially when the song opens up into a grandiose, arena-rock style chorus that sounds like it was composed by Dave Grohl.
Overall, Torche was a great live act. When the set was over and the oppressive low-end buzz was suddenly lifted, I immediately missed it. Seeing the Miami band in stupidly hot temperatures, I felt like I got a very authentic experience of Torche, and it almost made me thankful for this stupid dumb heat.