(04.2008, Hydra Head)
Verdict = Life affirming heavy metal
I have been in a kind of metal phase over the last couple weeks, listening to a lot of the highlights I’ve found from the last couple years and desperately wanting to grow my hair super long and wrangle with some tacky double necked guitar. Torche has been the highlight of this indulgence with their self titled debut and last years In Return 10”. In reference to Torche’s Meanderthal I have been read at least a couple references to Foo Fighters which is kind of funny, mostly because it is oddly fitting. However, if your going to throw Foo Fighters in as an ingredient you better be tempering it with the instrumental heft of Mastodon. Actually, I think Torche falls closer in line with anthemic noise rockers Parts & Labor than the Foo Fighters, but we should really avoid comparisons because albums like Meanderthal belong in a category all their own. Torche is just one of those few bands who capture the absolute destruction inherent in heavy metal and somehow turn it skyward into soaring, accessible rock anthems. Avoiding the classic guttural metal scream, Torche’s vocals lay evenly in the mix along side the grizzled riffs and crashing percussion and actually find melody and the occasional harmony. It is this fearless embrace of pop that is the X factor in the success of Meanderthal. I honestly don’t see the record reaching very far, even within the fields of metal, but if there ever was a perfect crossover record as far as metal is concerned, this is the one. Meanderthal is more than just the metal album of the year so far.