Reviews Torche Meanderthal

Torche

Meanderthal

By now, most people that care enough to know that Torche's point of origination begins with the fall of Steve Brooks' former band, Floor. Torche has certainly done enough differently to explicitly set itself apart from the former group, but it seems as though now they are coming full circle with the second Torche LP, Meanderthal. Following the excellent In Return, this full-length finds the band tightening their compositions and song structures even further resulting in some rather brief excursions, much like Floor's MO. While this is not completely unexpected, Meanderthal seemingly resolves the differences of both outfits and marries them into a cohesive onslaught of down tuned guitars and heavy music with more than the occasional pop sheen.

Opening with "Triumph of Venus" is the completely right choice, and although the beginning of the song seems a bit short, the mostly instrumental (save for the choir-esque vocals in the opening) sets up the following song very well. "Grenades" is so melodic and poppy that it hurts; the guitar melody is catchy and slick while the clean vocals, sometimes in harmony, that Torche utilizes from time to time, and the rhythm section (and rhythm guitar) anchors the entire arrangement with a big and beefy sound. The next several tracks zip by with varying degrees of solid songwriting until "Healer" hits. This is another super poppy song with syrupy melodic lead guitars, a great arrangement, solid rhythms, and more clean vocals that add up to make a song that could be huge. "Across the Shields" also is of a similar vein like "Healer" and "Grenades" just with a bit of a slower tempo - a tiny bit really.

But when one first hears "Sundown," there is not enough to prepare one for the slow tempo (real slow) and the pop arrangement; the vocals for "Sundown" are excellent with harmonies thrown in at just the right points to emphasize the sheen. The sweeping feel of "Without a Sound" is great, as is its calm tempo and pacing, and the chorus has a great vocal hook that makes the song sickeningly catchy. “Fat Waves" contains similar qualities but also shows more of the experimental side (the ambient noises mesh well with the guitar lines and rolling drums) of Torche as well as an amalgamation of this and their poppy side. Meanderthal closes real strong with the title-track, an instrumental dirge that utilizes the bottom trenching sound that initially drew me to Torche in the first place. The song brought a twisted smile to my face; but it really ties the album up well and seems to end the record with a gut churning exclamation point.

The production on this record is excellent and emphasizes new aspects of their sound that listeners only heard hints of on their two previous records. Meanderthal is a step in a slightly different direction for Torche, emphasizing the band's pop sensibilities quite a bit more. It is still a good record that, if one is not careful, is easy to listen to over and over again, partially because a large portion of the songs are short (right around the two minute mark for the majority of them) and partially due to the album's cohesive sound. Although I personally still like In Return more than this, Meanderthal is a thoroughly enjoyable record from start to finish. My favorite parts of the album kick in at "Without a Sound" and carry through to the end, and I think that Meanderthal ends on a high note.

7.8 / 10Bob
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