2 out of 5
Label: Hydra Head
Produced by: Jonathan Nuñez
Torche falls into the pile of bands that I always read about / hear things about that make me think I’ll dig them, but whenever I’ve happened by some releases or tracks, I’m under-impressed. A hyper-compressed EP of rock and metal tracks – 8 tracks in 20 minutes – as filtered through Torche’s purported hooky stoner metal template, seemed like another good opportunity, but Songs For Singles falls very flat upon my ears, with its structural compression and unimpactful production smooshing it down below the line of appreciable rock to become rather boring. The musicality is there, with blazing speed drumming and riffing, but the song construction of the first half of the release does this no favors, with songs lacking memorable hooks or melodies and having bridges that bridge to nowhere, and the recording / mix (mostly from bassist Jonathan Nuñez) without any discernible range – the songs, simply, lack punch, and punch is, I assume, what the 1 – 2 minute track lengths were aiming for.
The latter half of the album shows some promise when Torche strips away the showmanship: Shine On My Old Ways is probably the best track here, keeping things concise but also slowing it down and making it focused; the song finds room to evolve and have a sense of build over its less than 2 minute runtime. Followup Cast Into Unknown is a close second for top track, kicking the pace back up but, again, playing it straight – it’s a radio friendly rock jam, and does the job. Face the Wall sort of feels like a Shiner / Life and Times knockoff, and though it very much lacks Allen Epley’s passion and drags things out too long, it sounds pretty good, and has a quality beat. Closer Out Again is again kinda radio rock, and just repeats its rockin’ out riffing during its backhalf, but it at least allows the group (and listener) to revel in things for a bit, which is an appropriate enough way to close things.