Saturday, June 28, 2008

Torche make me happy

Notice anything weird about that picture of Torche? That's right, they're smiling. Not so common for a metal band, but Torche have some pretty good reasons to smile. The heavy metal they send on a supersonic jetplane all the way from Miami can get pretty fuckin' heavy -- probably explaining why all of Torche's members are so short -- and yet it's all in the name of major key, hooky rock 'n roll power.

So as I discovered during Torche's semi-secret gig last Monday night at the Relax Bar in L.A., it's possible to have your life affirmed by a metal concert. The hundred-odd people crammed in that sweaty hellhole were a brotherhood (with a couple sisters thrown in), pounding fists and screaming in righteous release along with the band's balls-crushing "thunder pop" (Torche's term, not mine). The Relax Bar isn't quite large enough for a proper pit, and yet the crowd got as close as it could during the couple tunes Torche dusted off from its pre-Torche incarnation as Floor, jumping all over each other, spilling beers and grasping for arms, mic stands, anything it could to attach itself to the music.

This wasn't the blank frat-monkey aggression of your standard moshing. This was proper HAPPINESS, of the fanatic hippie variety, felt so strongly and so uniformly by everyone in the room that strangers hugged one another. Torche as Jim Jones, doling out the aural Kool Aid? Yeah, that's about right. That show made me feel like I was fifteen again, when I believed that rock 'n roll could change the world.

Even Torche's shirts are inspiring. Here's the one I shoulda bought:

Read my Prefixmag review of Torche's new album Meanderthal here.

Listen to Torche on their MySpace page.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My life is complete.

It's become a mutual tradition between me and Amoeba Music in Hollywood: whenever I visit, which is often, I go to the miscellaneous "L" card in the Used Rock section, I look for Discography: '93 - '99 by the defunct Rochester band Lethargy, and Amoeba lets me down. Today the tradition ended. Now you gotta understand, this lil' bastard is massively out of print. I've been searching for it for YEARS. I checked EBay. Amazon. GEMM. The Relapse online store. I asked Mastodon's manager (Lethargy once had Brann Dailor and Bill Killiher in its ranks), and no dice. At this year's Maryland Deathfest I asked the Willowtip Records dudes (Willowtip band Sulaco features ex-Lethargy member Erik Burke), and even fewer dice. I'd all but given up. But today, there it was, sitting there between Legacy of Pain and Les Breastfeeders like it weren't no thing. Just chillin'. Two discs. $6.99. Total exhilaration. Haven't been this excited about finally tracking down an album since I got my hands on Idiot Flesh's Fancy late last year. A cosmic hug to whoever decided to rip it and sell it.

Discography: '93 - '99 is pretty freakin' fantastic. Lethargy was the epitome of spazzy tech-metal at a time when very few bands were doing spazzy tech-metal, years before Dillinger Escape Plan and Behold...The Arctopus set standards for the stuff. There's definitely some Atheist in the more recently recorded first disc, some power-violence too, and a publicist friend of mine swears that Lethargy worshipped at the throne of Human Remains, which I can definitely hear on the simpler, dissonant groovefests found on the more formative second disc. Not that the other 3/4 of Mastodon are slackers, but it's nice to hear Brann Dailor playing music that requires just as many chops from the rest of the band as it does from him. Production isn't nearly as crushing as it could be, and the drum sound is pretty flat. But you can hear EVERYTHING, which is essential for music this hard-grooving and tricky. Listen to a few clips on Lethargy's MySpace tribute page here

Of course it wouldn't really have mattered if Discography: '93 - '99 weren't any good. The important thing is that I FOUND IT. My next holy grail: anything by Spastic Ink. Who will help me?