CD - (2008 ; USA) - Hydra Head
LP - (2008 ; USA) - Robotic Empire
CD (2008 ; Japan) - Daymare
1. Triumph Of Venus (1:44)
2. Grenades (2:53)
3. Piraña (1:32)
4. Sandstorm (2:19)
5. Speed Of The Nail (1:41)
6. Healer (2:07)
7. Across The Shields (3:03)
8. Sundown (3:17)
9. Little Champion (0:34)
10. Without A Sound (2:06)
11. Fat Waves (4:32)
12. Amnesian (6:25)
13. Meanderthal (3:59)
Steve Brooks - guitar/vocals
Juan Montoya - guitar
Rick Smith - drums
Jonathan Nuñez - bass
Recorded in 2007 at Godcity in Salem, MA by Kurt Ballou. Additional guitars on 'Sundown' by Kurt Ballou. Additional drums on 'Fat Waves' and 'Meanderthal' by Chris Maggio. Mixed by Kurt Ballou and Torche. Mastered by Nick Zampielo. Artwork by Juan Montoya and Aaron Turner.
The 'In Return' EP was included as bonus tracks on the Japanese CD.
Maybe it's the bunker-thick wall of sludge, maybe it's the doomy undertow, or maybe it's the hair-farming guitar whiz and gay frontman (peace to Judas Priest), but Torche aren't really a metal band, certainly not the pleasureless Ozzfest kind, not with riffs this gloriously anthemic. "Meanderthal" is guitar pop for those who wish Foo Fighters had a pre-sellout period. The superchunky "Grenades," "Healer," and "Across the Shields" thrash out hefty hooks so flawless that Josh Homme just woke up in a cold sweat.
- Joe Gross / SPIN Magazine
After establishing themselves as fine purveyors of metallic sludge over the course of an album and an EP, Torche's second full-length, Meanderthal, refines their penchant for volume and proves that there's more in their bag of tricks than Melvins-like metal. The record kicks off at a breakneck pace with a half-dozen tar-thick tracks. The fleet-fingered math of "Triumph of Venus" gives way to the triumphant bombast of "Grenades", a track that's barely finished before "Pirhaña"'s stop/start stomp kicks into gear. Through these six songs-- including "Sandstorm", "Speed of the Nail", and "Healer"-- nothing necessarily feels out of the ordinary when compared to what Torchehave done in the past.
The hard left turn -- and perhaps the breaking point with "true" metal dudes-- comes with "Across the Shields", a tune that could find a nice home on modern rock radio. Musically, the group finds a comfortable middle ground between their speed trials and more turgid pace, allowing Steve Brooks' militant holler-- usually more reminiscent ofHelmet's Page Hamilton -- to take on a melodic bent that could bring to mind anyone from Dave Grohl to Jawbox's J. Robbins. There's even an honest-to-goodness hook: "I am your armor," Brooks sings as the guitars descend. The moment stands out due to producer (and Converge guitarist) Kurt Ballou; the crisp sheen he lends to Torche'ssound makes everything stand out and shimmer.
Torche follow that breakthrough with a second half that contains a quick and clean 30-second instrumental ("Little Champion"), more catchy hit-and-run slabs ("Sundown", "Without a Sound"), and a thunderous one-two punch ("Amnesian", "Meanderthal") to finish an album that shows Torche spreading their wings and exploring new territory while still creating their heaviest music yet. It's a fitting send-off to an absolutely killer rock record -- one that's likely to appeal to listeners into any stripe of heavy music from the past 20 years.
- David Raposa / PITCHFORK MEDIA
It's almost as if Torche wrote a record in response to Hydra Head Records' habit of releasing discs of doomy, unlistenable forty-minute songs. The band that once penned sludgy, stodgy songs have produced an effort inarguably their most accessible to date: Meanderthal, an album that's anything but its title as it's a strong collection of XM-friendly stoner-pop/straight-up rock jams that tempers their elder sound and strikes territory closer to alternative radio acts like Queens of the Stone Age and even the Foo Fighters.
Whether it's through the layered declarations of the stomping, mid-tempo "Grenades" or faster romps like "Piraña," "Fat Waves" and "Healer," guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks can often be found singing or shouting in an easily digested delivery that's less harsh and ugly than last year's In Return EP, 2005's self-titled or, especially, his days in the noisier and more off-kilter Floor.
The contrast the band presents is an interesting one, though. With songs like "Speed of the Nail," distorted guitars and bass can rumble and roll, creating an austerity that isn't always present; but then there's the incredibly happy and melodic in the seriously exceptional "Across the Shields," where Brooks could fill an arena with his proclamation, "I am your armor!" "Healer" and "Fat Waves" both find particularly smooth middle grounds, with a hard-charging riff driving each respective song and an excellently energetic pacing in both.
One of the especially confounding tracks is the brooding "Sundown" because, swear to fucking God, aside from the chorus it sounds like Jawbreaker circa Bivouac or 24 Hour Revenge Therapy; Brooks' nasally, distorted delivery on the verses could even pass for Schwarzenbach's. Upon further analysis, though, it makes sense: Brooks is highly influenced by punk rock, and not only sonically; the average song length here is under three minutes.
High-gloss production would probably really take this record over the top, but thankfully, Kurt Ballou applies his signature grit, which keeps the record steady and slightly muffled amid all the bold melodies. And frankly, the last two tracks, "Amnesian" and "Meanderthal," make sure things aren't all SquiZZ; the former is a six-minute thunderstorm and the latter a four-minute instrumental mammoth, both of which harken back to the band's earlier days.
Meanderthal is a different kind of mammoth than one's used to hearing from Torche, but when they seem to do it better than the bands they'll now assuredly be lumped with, they're certainly deserving of immunity.
- David R / punknews.org
TORCHE have always been regarded for their crushing, heavy sound. However, with the appropriately named Meanderthal, we find TORCHE offering up a unique slate of songs that meander from outstanding pop to the neanderthalic and monolithic heaviness that we have come to expect from them.
Meanderthal sees TORCHE really moving in a direction of their own and leaving behind the memory of frontman Steve Brooks’ former band FLOOR. On their self-titled debut, the majority of tracks were weed-soaked jams laced with feedback and reverb, with the occasional uptempo track like “Fire” shining through. That song, along with tracks like “In Return” and “Rule The Beast” from the In Return EP, foreshadowed the best aspects of Meanderthal - the upbeat songs with an underlying sense of gravity and vocals reminiscent of Dave Grohl. I have always believed that songs wereTORCHE’s strongest suit, and on Meanderthal, songs such as “Healer”, and “Pirana” prove that very notion. One of Meanderthal’s best is the song “Fat Waves”, a track which starts off as an uptempo jam loaded with hooks and, then on a dime, you are face to face with an angry Orange amp and a delay pedal.
TORCHE have solidly planted their flag in the realm of heavy music with Meanderthal,but this album seeks to achieve something greater. With its impeccable Kurt Ballouproduction, it truly does have something for everyone – from pop gems for the FALL OUT BOY-listening set to intimidating, one note bass bombs (see: album title track) for those who may have been fans of the late YOB. With this sharp and superbly-written album, TORCHE are poised to become a household name, and are easily in the running for best of 2008.
- Alex Harisiadis / Pastepunk