Torche - Meanderthal
Hydra Head
Punkish Sludge Rock/Metal
13 songs (36:13)
Release year: 2008
Hydra Head
Reviewed by Goat

One of the many bands that have been causing fractiousness in the True Doom community recently, Miami-based Sludgers Torche play a form of Stoner Metal that mostly relies on short, sharp songs and catchiness rather than slowness. There’s plenty of speed in the playing here, with melodic vocals that together give the band a sound that’s surprisingly akin to Pop-Punk. Yes, I know it sounds terrible from the description, but amazingly it works pretty well... for the first few listens. After that, things aren’t so good.

What’s interesting, for a band that’s apparently so Poppish and throwaway, is the spacey depths and heights that the four-piece can reach if they put their mind to it. Opener Triumph Of Venus is practically Progressive, moving between rainbow melody and hulking Sludge within the blink of an eye, whilst following track Grenades is all about the group vocals and is more like an Indie band attempting to cover Jesu. Later, longer songs like Fat Waves are when you truly see the band’s potential, a psychedelic, gripping mixture that touches the epic and serves to make most of the shorter, more throwaway songs on the album seem worse than they are.

Alas, this isn’t the Proggy, psychedelic punch it could have been, and the middling-to-poor outweighs the great; Piranha is the moment when things start getting Pop-Punky, the song sounding like a cross between System Of A Down and Alkaline Trio (if you’re feeling generous) or System and Blink 182 (if you’re not). What must be stated, however, is that Meanderthal is the work of a Doom band going Pop rather than the other way around. Most of the tracks here would probably cause your average Rock Show-humming cretin to run screaming, with plenty of pummelling to be found in the nooks and crannies, yet it is impossible to deny that the likes of Across The Shields could be from some crappy garage rock-hopefuls’ demo tape, which is enough to cause all sorts of shudders in your humble correspondent.

The question ultimately comes down to what you as a music listener can put up with, and if you’re anything like me then although you’ll do your best to put the nasty images away and enjoy Torche for what they are – a better than average Stoner band that isn’t afraid of dipping into either the Sludge or the Pop for inspiration – on the whole the album is a bit repetitive and samey to really be any good. It’s a relief that the songs are so short, really, and that the album is below the forty-minute mark, because after a half-hour or so this really does start to drag (even with the instrumental outro that is the dictionary definition of 'trying too hard') and there’s not that much inspiration behind it all. Empty your mind and fill your playlist with Torche and there’ll be much to enjoy, especially if you’re new to Doom in general. Just don’t listen too closely, too long, or sober if you want to get the most out of this band.

Killing Songs :
Triumph Of Venus, Grenades, Fat Waves, Amnesia
Goat quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Torche that we have reviewed:
Torche - Restarter reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Torche - Harmonicraft reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:30 am
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