Since the last time the music world heard a proper studio album from Floridian sludge pop metal act Torche, a lot has happened. A band member was replaced (guitarist Juan Montoya), a split 10" vinyl with Boris (titled Chapter Ahead Being Fake was released, followed by another split—of Guided By Voices covers—with London's Part Chimp, and a buzzworthy EP was issued (last year's Songs for Singles).
Harmonicraft, out today, April 24 (via Volcom) is the band's third record and the proper full-length follow-up to their second one, Meanderthal, its critically praised breakout album that came out four (seemingly long) years ago. At just under 39 minutes, this new batch of 13 tracks—which average three minutes each for all you math majors out there—are largely in keeping with the group's well established approach of creating (mostly) short but super heavy and hook-driven jams. They just don't fuck around or waste a single note.
The first track released from the record, "Kicking" (track two), is an aggressive, yet upbeat hard rock piece with phaser-aided guitars that wash over the sound barrier during the choruses. It's typical Torche and a good early album highlight, as is the next track, "Walk It Off." That tune's fast tempo and meaty guitars will instantly remind stoner rock fans of Queens of the Stone Age, particularly "Go With The Flow." but in its 1:26 in length, it still has room for a couple of sudden twists in the form of some brief, chugging heavy chords and bass lines.
Singer/guitarist Steve Brooks sounds more than a bit like ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on this LP and especially on "Reverse Inverted," which tucks in some bluesy guitar stylings into its heavy brand of rock 'n' roll. "Kiss Me Dudely" just plain fuckin' rocks, especially towards the end, and is therefore another standout.
At first, "Snakes Are Charmed" was a mixed bag for this reviewer, but has gotten better with each listen. It starts out promising, via its opening twin guitar lines (which are likely played by one guitarist with a harmonizer). Then the tune slows up with mind-tricky time-signature changes that just didn't resonate to these ears at first.