Lo-Pan to Tour with Torche and KENmode

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I was wondering the other day what Ohio-based fuzz rockers Lo-Pan might have up their always-busy sleeves to follow their tour with High on Fire, and then all of a sudden, here’s an announcement that they’re hitting the road for two weeks in June with Torche and KENmode. That’s a pretty badass bill, three distinctly different takes on heavy that should make for a decent complement to each other as Lo-Pan continues to refine new material like the song “Colossus,” which you can check out footage of below.

But first, the dates. Remember, this will still be before Lo-Pan‘s previously announced short stint with Gozu that caps with both bands hitting Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 in Brooklyn. Behold:

JUST ANNOUNCED! Lo-Pan will be hitting the road with our buddies Torche and KEN mode for a couple of weeks in June. All current dates listed below.

Sat/06-01 Milwaukee – The Cactus Club
Sun/06-02 St. Louis, MO – The Firebird
Mon/06-03 Cincinnati, OH – The Taft
Tue/06-04 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
Wed/06-05 Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop
Thu/06-06 Detroit, MI – The Magic Stick
Fri/06-07 Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme
Sat/06-08 Toronto, Canada – Lee’s Palace
Sun/06-09 Syracuse, NY – Lost Horizon
Mon/06-10 Boston, MA – Sinclair
Wed/06-12 Providence, RI – AS220
Thu/06-13 West Chester, PA – The Note
Fri/06-14 – TBA
Sat/06-15 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll

Lo-Pan, “Colossus” live in Portland, OR 12.15.12

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Torche, Harmonicraft: Inverting the Reverse, and Vice Versa

Posted in Reviews on May 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Miami-based rockers Torche don’t do anything so well as they seem to delight in contradiction. Even on their third full-length album, Harmonicraft, there’s a palpable joy that comes through in the band’s defiance of the expectations placed on them. On the most superficial level, Harmonicraft is released by Volcom, where the bulk of the band’s various splits, singles and EPs have arrived via Hydra Head, and in terms of function, though the 13 songs here seem to go punch for punch with the 13 songs on 2008’s Meanderthal and wind up just a minute longer in total – 37 as opposed to 36 on the prior outing – they do so with the pivotal inclusion of a new guitarist/vocalist. Torche, who recorded 2010’s Songs for Singles EP as the three-piece of bassist Jon Nuñez, drummer Rick Smith and vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks, are joined here for the first time by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Elstner, who came aboard to fill the spot formerly occupied by Juan Montoya, currently of MonstrO. As Montoya had previously played with Brooks in seminal Floridian doomers Floor, who reunited for several shows in 2010 to celebrate a 10LP box set, his absence from Torche was significant despite the common perception that it’s Brooks doing the bulk of the writing, but Elstner fits smoothly into that role (especially vocally), and Harmonicraft shows no backward movement on the part of the band either in performance or creative scope. As ever for Torche, songwriting is paramount, and they continue to refine their blend of weighted underground metal tonality with classic pop structures, upbeat, catchy choruses and melodies. They’re a band known for offering a lot of substance in a short amount of time – indeed, several of Harmonicraft’s tracks hover below or around the two-minute mark, and that novelty has always been part of Torche’s contrarian nature as regards the tropes of doom – and these songs keep that pattern going, with a memorability factor that at points mirrors the strength of the hooks.

Sandwiched by near-manically upbeat opener “Letting Go” and the five-and-a-half-minute relative downer closer “Looking On,” the bulk of Harmonicraft settles into Torche’s creative sphere comfortably, with the band sounding confident in their presentation. The album was recorded by Nuñez and mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Black Cobra, etc.), and sounds crisp and clean, and cuts like “Kicking,” which follows the opener, and the playful later arrival “Kiss Me Dudely” offer landmarks of a quality no less forceful than prior Torche high points like “Grenades” from Meanderthal, “Tarpit Carnivore” from 2007’s In Return EP (though for my money, they’ve never been that heavy before or since) or “Mentor” from 2005’s self-titled debut. These tracks are Torche at their best, and on an album like Harmonicraft, which doesn’t follow a plotted narrative – at least to my knowledge – are essential in the overall effect on the listener. Other songs seem to serve to bolster their position, like the skater-punkish 86-second blast “Walk it Off” that ups the energy following “Kicking,” leading to the more mid-paced groove of “Reverse Inverted,” or likewise, the slower, more openly-riffed “Solitary Traveler,” on which Brooks’ vocals arrive from deeper in the mix and coated in sub-psychedelic echo. One hears shades of U2 sentimentality in the lead notes of mid-album cuts like “Snakes are Charmed,” but Torche’s tonal heft is maintained through Nuñez’ bass and underscored by Smith’s tom work. Particularly without Montoya’s involvement, it’s easy to read Torche at this point as being Brooks’ band – and maybe it is, I don’t know the realities of their songwriting process – but even if that’s the case, everyone here contributes. Following the more foreboding Melvins-style chug of “In Pieces,” “Snakes are Charmed” is one more shift Torche skillfully pull off on Harmonicraft, Smith’s frantic snare on the 1:18 “Sky Trials” acting as a palate cleanser before “Roaming”’s nod-worthy groove exemplifies the mixture of influence that has come to typify the band.

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First Impressions: Torche, Songs for Singles

Posted in Reviews, Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

In the spirit of the release, I’m going to try to keep this short:

Torche songs are so easy to get excited about, because they’re actually exciting. They’re upbeat, energetic, accessible, friendly-sounding even at their heaviest. I just popped their new offering, Songs for Singles in my player for the first time, and already, I want to hang out with it. I want to sit with it and have a beer and watch the bug zapper. Eight songs in under 22 minutes isn’t the kind of numbers I usually get down with, but man, Torche kick ass with twice the efficiency of most bands.

What I like most immediately about Songs for Singles is that the first six tracks comprise half the listening time, and the last two make up the final 10-plus minutes. You’re through “U.F.O.” before you know it, and “Lay Low” is only 51 seconds long, so that’s barely started before it’s done, but “Shine on My Old Ways” seems to change the pace, and by the time “Face the Wall” comes on, you feel like you just hit it. The wall, that is.

If you dug the dreamy pop aspects of Meanderthal, you’re probably also going to drool over Songs for Singles, as even on the slower “Face the Wall” and six-minute capper “Out Again,” that element of their sound is a constant. There aren’t any über-heavy guitar bombs, and as “Out Again” stretches the instrumental section that gradually fades to close the record, it’s apparent that what Torche like playing with in their sound is the sometimes massive, sometimes sweet contrast. Right now, they’re doing it better than anyone else.

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Torche to Explore Singularity this September; Classy Album Art Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 2nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

This site seems awfully Torche-centric lately, with the Floor coverage (lackluster though it was — the coverage, that is) and the Meanderthal Demos writeup, but there’s word through the PR wire that they’ve got a new album out on Hydra Head September 21, so it’s only right to post said news in this space, which I think I’ll do right now:

Songs for Singles, Torche‘s upcoming addition to a six year stretch of well deserved lionization within the world of progressive metal, is basically a super solid collection of singles (though I’m pretty sure the title actually refers to one’s legal interpersonal status) written by, and therefore in, the instantly appealing songwriting style developed by the band…

You, just like me, have probably been waiting patiently for some new material since Meanderthal! If so, I’m honored to be the one to publicly confirm that new material is on its way! If you are one of those in need of an education on the subject, Songs for Singles will still find a way into your day to day… reason being… everyone’s Summer needs a jam (debate it) and Songs for Singles will be hitting shelves just in the nick of time!

Torche, Songs for Singles:
01 “U.F.O.”
02 “Lay Low”
03 “Hideaway”
04 “Arrowhead”
05 “Shine on My Old Ways”
06 “Cast into Unknown”
07 “Face the Wall”
08 “Out Again”

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Buried Treasure and the Six Dollar Pink Cassette

Posted in Buried Treasure on June 17th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

On my most recent trip there, the dude behind the counter of Wallingford, Connecticut‘s Red Scroll Records pretty much had me pegged. I don’t know if it was the shirt I was wearing (I don’t remember which it was, but all I wear are band shirts, so it could have been anyone) or what, but shortly after I walked into the store, the strains of the aforementioned Dopesmoker by Sleep started coming through the stereo system. I guess I’m an easy mark.

As most of my previous excursions to Red Scroll have been, this one was successful, yielding used records from The Gates of Slumber, Quitter, Slough Feg, reissues of the first two Enslaved albums (also used), recent comedy records by David Cross and Eugene Mirman and, as I stood at the register, like a candy bar at a grocery store checkout, a six dollar pink cassette of Torche‘s Meanderthal Demos.

Of course, I was psyched at the CD haul, but the Torche went in first. I buy cassettes because I have a tape player in my car and I feel like if I don’t use it, I’m somehow missing out on an opportunity. The Patient Mrs. thinks this is ridiculous, and she’s a little right. I enjoy the absurdity, and in the case of Torche‘s Meanderthal Demos, I was stoked to hear the band’s material in a rawer form, since, though the finished album was enjoyable, it was also incredibly polished, production-wise.

Getting to hear the roots of songs like “Grenades” and “Across the Shields” was both interesting and exciting, since it sounded good and was a cool experiment for the ears in this new context. The songs are different, obviously less developed, but enjoyable anyway, and though Torche‘s capable grasp of melody is present, there’s more edge to the demos that makes them sound a little rougher than Meanderthal itself. In other words: right fucking on.

A pink cassette is a little more hip irony than I usually allow myself to engage in, but whatever, it sounds good and it only cost six dollars, so I’d be a bigger asshole for not hearing it. And it was worth every penny, since the tracks still show off Torche‘s high-quality songwriting in their rudimentary form. I didn’t expect to come out of Red Scroll having just paid six dollars for a pink cassette, but it wound up being the highlight of the trip and something I’ve gone back to for multiple listens already. All hail the impulse buy.

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Torche Got Robbed by Assholes

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

I know I’m taking a pretty strong stand here, and that my opinion might be controversial, but I have to say it: I am AGAINST robbing bands on tour. I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t think it’s the way nature intends mankind to behave.

There, I said it. I feel better. Really.

In all seriousness, you’ve got to be one serious fuckhead to rob a band on tour. Especially a band like Torche. I mean, go ahead, steal Saliva‘s shit. They didn’t pay for it, half those cabinets are empty, and they suck anyway. But to rob Torche while they’re sleeping after a show? That’s a special brand of asshole.

Here’s a note from the band via the PR wire:

After our Chicago show at the Congress Theater on May 14 between 1:30AM and 4:00AM our van was broken into while parked in front of Goethe Elementary and a bunch of equipment was stolen. Items taken include music equipment, personal items/luggage, band/personal checkbook, cameras, laptop, and passports.

The following items were taken:
* Custom Electrical Guitar Company bass w/hardcase #220
* First Act custom bass w/hardcase serial number # JN-0901002
* Black Gibson Custom Les Paul w/SKB hardcase
(has chip on the top L side of headstock, visible neck repair on top side of the neck,
may have missing paint opposite vol and tone knobs if sticker was removed).
* Custom woodfinish guitar w/hardcase
* Acoustic 370 Bass Head
* 2 x SKB PS25 pedal boards
* 2 x Boss tuning pedals
* MXR Phase 90
* Boss DD5 pedal
* Boss guitar EQ pedal
* Custom 3 way amp selector (metallic blue)
* Fulltone OCD pedal
* Aguilar Tone Hammer pedal
* Boss Bass EQ pedal
* Shure Beta 57
* Misc Mogami, Monster, and George L’s cable
* Suitcase style 7 space guitar stand
* Black iPod Touch
* Black Compaq Presario laptop
* Nikon Blue Coolpix camera
* Sony CyberShot camera
* Garmin 205W GPS
* Black Luggage containing: tubes, guitar strings, instrument cables, speaker cables, tuning pegs, surge protectors.

If you know anyone in the Chicago area we’d appreciate any help in spreading the word.


Since the band had their passports stolen and are unable to join Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive in Canada, Torche have assembled some last-minute house shows until they’re able to meet back up with the tour. Please go out and support the band, and if you’re feeling extra generous, you can make a donation here.

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Torche Continue Their Never-Ending Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yeah, sure, Torche have just launched on a month-long US tour — nothing really new there — and I guess Hydra Head is going to issue the split they did with Boris, but the below info from the PR wire (oh, PR wire, how I missed you) also subtly drops the news that the band just finished a new recording. Doesn’t say of what sort, EP, LP or other, but whatever Torche has got that’s new is fine by me. Check it out:

Kicking off this week, Miami‘s Torche will head out on a month-long US tour supporting Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive. The tour will span both coasts, travel throughout the Midwest, and head to select cities in the Great White North.

In addition, Torche and Hydra Head have announced the band’s new split release with Boris, Chapter Ahead Being Fake, which will see the light of day on June 29th on 10″ vinyl.

And since teasing is our sort of our thing, the band just finished self-recording their next batch of hits for release late August 2010… but we’ll tell you more about that later…

Torche live w/ Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive:
04/22/10 Charlotte, NC. @ The Fillmore Charlotte

04/23/10 Atlanta, GA. @ Tabernacle

04/24/10 Lake Buena Vista, FL. @ House of Blues (Orlando)
04/25/10 Lauderdale, FL. @ Revolution

04/27/10 Houston, TX. @ Warehouse Live

04/28/10 Austin, TX. @ Stubb’s BBQ
04/29/10 Dallas, TX. @ Palladium Ballroom
04/30/10 Tulsa, OK. @ Cain’s Ballroom
05/01/10 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom

05/03/10 Tempe, AZ. @ Marquee Theatre

05/04/10 Pomona, CA. @ The Fox Theatre
05/05/10 San Francisco, CA. @ The Warfield

05/07/10 Portland, OR. @ Roseland Theater

05/08/10 Seattle, WA. @ Showbox SoDo
05/10/10 Murray, UT. @ Murray Theater
05/11/10 Denver, CO. @ Ogden Theatre
05/13/10 Minneapolis, MN. @ First Avenue
05/14/10 Chicago, IL. @ Congress Theatre
05/15/10 Royal Oak, MI. @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
05/17/10 Boston, MA. @ House of Blues
05/18/10 Montreal, QC. @ Metropolis
05/19/10 Toronto, ON. @ The Sound Academy
05/22/10 Philadelphia, PA. @ The Electric Factory
05/26/10 New York, NY. @ Rumsey Playfield
05/27/10 Washington, DC. @ 9:30 Club
05/28/10 Washington, DC. @ 9:30 Club
07/31/10 Chicago, IL. @ Subterranean * no Coheed or Circa Survive

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Floor Interview with Anthony Vialon: The Band Gets Their 10LP Exclamation Point

Posted in Features on February 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

You know the old saying: “If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing across eight CDs.”

Long-since defunct Floridian doomers Floor, from whose cranium sprang forth the mighty Torche the kids love so well, have taken the above maxim to heart with their new box set, Below and Beyond. Available through Robotic Empire either as 10LPs (and one 7″) or eight CDs, plus digital downloads, it is as huge a project as a band could take on. As bassist Anthony Vialon informs in his first interview since parting with the band in 2003, it was quite an undertaking.

Vialon was a founding member of Floor, alongside guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, and there is palpable emotion in his voice when he talks both about being kicked out of the band and about putting together Below and Beyond and the prospect of playing Floor‘s several upcoming reunion shows in Miami and Gainsville, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia. He remarked at several points during our discussion that he was nervous and, having removed himself completely from the music industry over the better part of the last decade, out of practice. Nonetheless, he was remarkably open about his experiences both positive and negative with Floor and genuine in his appreciation of the growing interest in his former outfit.

Floor‘s Below and Beyond is due out next month, and the live shows are set to encompass material with multiple drummers, including Henry Wilson (who was instrumental in putting the box set together and in the band from 1997 till their breakup in 2004), Jeff Sousa (1994-1996) and Betty Monteavaro (1992-1993). Vialon explains it all in his Q&A after the jump.

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Fact: Torche Love Making Videos

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 24th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’d have to go back and check the archives, but I’m relatively certain it was only like three weeks ago that Floorida (get it? Because Steve Brooks used to be in Floor? Ah, screw you guys) doom poppers Torche put out a video for “Across the Shields.” Fine, it was May. Even so, May to July is awfully damn quick for a band to be doing another. Maybe it’s because their songs are short so it doesn’t take much time to shoot them. Probably not.

In any case, here’s Torche‘s new video for “Healer” from the 12″ of the same name and last year’s Meanderthal, directed by David Kleiler, from MTV.com. Enjoy.

Fuck that shit.

NOTE: As I was getting ready to finalize this post, I clicked play on the embedded video and found an ad for some fucking skin cream or something. Simply put, fuck that shit. No way I’m putting a video on my site with a god damn commercial in it that I’m not getting paid for. That’s called being a sucker. Bad enough MTV would put an ad in front of a video for a two-minute song, but then to expect other people to host it too? Get fucking real. Soon as “Healer” hits YouTube or somewhere that isn’t going to try and sell me something to get rid of pubescent acne, I’ll host it. Meantime, the video’s on the MTV site if you want to go find it. You’ll get no link from me.

Here’s a live version of the song instead:

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Are Torche Doom?

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

I know I dig them well enough, and they’re way, way heavier on stage than they are on plastic, but are Floridian Hydra Head rockers Torche a doom band? They certainly fit into the realm of underground, semi-stoner metal, but I keep reading about them being doom pop or whatever and I’m not sure if I consider them doom at all, but something else entirely. Just something to think about while you enjoy the new video for “Across the Shields” from last year’s Meanderthal above. Any thoughts, please weigh in with a comment.

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