Monthly Archives: September 2012

Torche, XOYO, 16th September 2012

Following the sad announcement that their former record label – Hydra Head – is to fold you could forgive Torche for arriving at this Shoreditch basement in a subdued mood but that’s not the case in XOYO tonight. Touring this year’s taut, to the point Harmonicraft album Torche are armed with the songs required to motivate themselves and the Sunday night crowd with a collective eye on Monday morning.

Generally, if we accept that black metal is a genre predicated on exclusivity then Torche’s groovy doom-pop is the polar opposite: all about open arms and inclusiveness. They’re never too cool or obscure – witness singer/guitarist and Toadfish from Neighbours lookalike Steve Brooks’ Hawaiian shirt. Nice.

After the support band’s bathed in blue light performance of Dead Meadow by the way of early Waters’-era Floyd psychedelic meandering Torche’s one-two opening combo of Letting Go and Kicking and flashing lights is like a dose of smelling salts. The first half of their sixty minute set is devoted to short, sharp blasts of intricate but immediate hard rock from Harmonicraft and 2008’s Meanderthal including a blistering Triumph of Venus and the mini-epic that is Reverse Inverted.

Mid-set Torche show they still can still get low and slow following on from the fast-paced opening with the crunching lurch of Harmonicraft and the piston firing Sandstorm with bass player Jonathan Nunez leading the charge from the front of the stage. His bald pate starting to drown in sweat as heads bob in unison to the elephantine grooves from the stage to the back of the room. It is here, however, where things get a bit monolithic as the snappier songs of Torche’s present give way to the heavier leanings of their past losing some momentum in the process. In the end tonight’s show has been like Sven-Goran Eriksson’s frequent description of the England football team’s performances: ‘1st half good; 2nd half not so good” but what a first half.

First published on RoomThirteen.

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Cleft “Whale Bone” Self released

Cleft Whale Bone EP Cover

Another review for the folks over at Sonic Shocks. Read it here and this listen to the tunes/fork over some dosh at bandcamp.

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In This Moment “Blood” Century Media

 

Album cover of Blood

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room straight away: Maria Brinks’ image and the way she is perceived. Countless rock n’ roll dudes have strapped cod pieces on and sauntered about on-stage to both male and female adulation down the years with little hand-wringing and perhaps Brink is no different – just carrying on an old rock tradition. Sex is, after all an important part of rock’s make-up. But In This Moment feel different; more cynical in pushing Brink out front looking like Dolly Parton fronting a biker band – it’s incongruous and elevates a run of the mill band to greater commercial heights than their song-writing talents would alone.

Brink and her cohorts are either unwitting contributors to this reduction of women’s contribution in metal to simply their looks or she is, to use the Katie Price/Jordan Defence, using men’s most reductive sexual desires for her own gain on her own terms – a capitalist using all of the resources available to her to get the band listened to. Could it be that Brinks nails it on the head when she sings on the anguished Whore: “Let me tell you something baby / You love me for everything you hate me for”? In the end, it is a shame to be discussing her looks rather than the music on Blood but that in itself says a lot about In This Moment; they are almost irretrievably bland.

On their fourth release – Blood – In This Moment cough up a chundering sputum of hairspray rock and nu-metal as if Brink thought the best thing to do was to be the girl that all those slobbering, platinum selling mummy’s boys with their ratty dreads and tracksuits lusted after but could never have back in the early noughties by adopting all their tropes. This isn’t done particularly subtly exhorting the music [and you] “to fuck her” at the end of It is Written and generally ladling the album with banal sex (I’m a dirty, dirty girl I want it filthy) and humour-free teenage rage (Shut! Shut! Shut! Shut, shut the fuck up! You’re gonna listen this life is mine!). Fear not, though, I did listen all the way to the end of the record taking in the Chino Moreno aping vocal style of Adrenalize, those “shut, shut, shut up!” lyrics pinched from Linkin Park on You’re Gonna Listen and the overwrought pitch for radio play From the Ashes.

The monolithic down-tuned chuggery of guitarists Chris Howorth and Randy Weitzel is used in different amounts depending on what kind of “dark sinfulness” we are meant to be experiencing and dashes of the currently ubiquitous EDM keys mixed with NiN style industrial touches and acoustic wittering are also thrown in with Brink’s tormented vocals pulling the album this way and that. Generally, Blood as a product is as solid and well-produced, if overlong, as you’ll get but it’s ultimately an album where In This Moment try a few new things but that just fails to catch light, leaning too heavily on cliches and second hand ideas from already tired or past their best bands.

From the trajectory In this Moment have followed thus far in their career from hustling and harrying their way to prominence via Ozzfest and dubious magazine covers to the ‘more mature’ sounds on Blood I would not rule out the possibility of the band ditching the metal distorted guitars and the modicum of heaviness employed therein altogether and becoming one of those big ballad, salt of the earth rock bands (think Nickelback) the US still makes stars of. Songs like Scarlet undoubtedly point the way but who will follow?

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