Words Anthony Moore.
Photos Adam Russ – Right Eye Media Australia.
There are so many amazing bands out there that sometimes the ones we should be obsessing over just fall through the cracks. For me, Torche was one of those bands. After only previously hearing a very small portion of their catalogue and about them from some of those around Melbourne, it was evident the gig was definitely one to attend. Plus the local contingent was a solid reinforcement.
First up were DEAD who I could review without even needing to be there. They’re a favourite Melbourne staple and I’ve caught them loads of times, but I’ve also never seen them play a bad set. Although one thing that does change is just how kick arse they are. The guys keep building on the strong foundation of what they’ve always had and are going from strength to strength, which is great to see. For a two piece that play as one though sound like 10, they have become even tighter and more powerful and with Dav Byrne mixing, these guys were even way more massive than usual.
Playing The Corner for the first time they started with the bass warming up and then taking off like a jet engine in a V8 Interceptor. A stripped back yet explosive juggernaut mix of sludge infested punk, DEAD are the beast that lays in wait underneath King Buzzo’s bed to scare the shit out of him every night. They have a drive that is unrivalled and both Jace (bass) and Jem (drums) are relentless in trying to beat their instruments down and make them play and sound harder, gutsier and more crushing to truly devour our senses. DEAD’s ferocity is at times like a pack of starving hyenas on a two day ice bender and thrown into a pre-school at play time. Though they also know how to hold back, miss a beat, take a breath, let the air flow and whistle when the room needs to hear their thoughts in between each note. To paraphrase what Rick Smith (Torche) said at the end of the night… “DEAD are the best fuckin band I’ve seen in a long time”.
Child were up next though I’m not sure if the Corner crowd were ready for their bluesy riffs and soulful sound after having their bones crushed by DEAD. People watched on nonetheless and the guys ripped out some of the best heartbreak you’ll hear south of the arr… South. Real US southern heart felt pain in each string bend, bass line and beat. I’m not sure if it was the mix, the Marshall stack on stage or the Corner itself but it seemed that Mathias Northway had some more grit than usual in his guitar’s bottom end and it gave their sound more grunt. Child are one of those bands that aren’t trying to sound old school but were born in the wrong era and are playing it for real. Blue Overtone Storm / Yellow Planetary Sun is a perfect blend of everything they do from oozing soul and groove right through to gutsy blues and absolute kickin riffs. What a great opening for the night, DEAD and Child, a perfect example of two of Melbourne’s finest. Though it was disappointing to see that some of the crowd waited just to see the headliner.
The Corner band room had filled as Torche hit the stage. From the little of them I’d heard, I wasn’t sure what to expect but they came out all guns a blazing. During the first song I thought they were a bit like the earlier rockin QOTSA sound yet they proved me wrong pretty damn quickly. One minute they’re throwing around head swinging stoner, the next drummer Rick Smith was belting out some ‘80s thrash metal break neck speed beat, then out of nowhere a sharp hook turn straight into some of the dirtiest doom riffs you’ll ever hear. There is simply no way to label Torche other than… they are Torche. It’s like throwing your keys into a bowl at a swingers party and not knowing which genre you’ll be taking home for the night. Incredibly tight and well-rehearsed and the guys clearly love what they do. Singer / guitarist Steve Brooks paraded around like a cross between the excitable Danko Jones and Jack Black with his demonic faces as he chugged out the bottom end doom and switched back out of character smiling as he jumped to the mic.
Torche are not just an amazing band to hear, they are a pleasure to watch. They’re like a constantly charging machine. At times the vocals seemed a bit low in the mix but how do you compete with those guitars and that freight train drumming, it’s like they were someone hanging on to a race car and being dragged along behind it at 200 kph.
It was great to hear the band give a thanx and shout out to Dave and Life Is Noise, the promoter of the tour. Well deserved and the respect and courtesy they have for those they work with as well as their fans is obvious. And every fan let them know it’s reciprocated with every song starting to cheers as if it was someone’s favourite, and more than likely was.
The records in my collection after ‘T’ now have a lean to the right, I had to make some space for Torche to fill.