Last Night: Torche, The House Harkonnen at The Nightmare

Torche, House Harkonnen, White Mountain
The Nightmare
September 23, 2010

(A Little) Better Than: Torchy's Tacos.

Torche brought their Florida stoner metal prog rock to 60 or so people at The Nightmare in Deep Ellum last night, and took them all along for a head-banging journey.

Although it took them a bit to sound check, when the trio began, there was instantaneous head-banging. You could see it in the crowd and feel it from the speakers. This was a classic metal show--but not as angry of a show as you might expect. Instead of screaming, lead singer Steve Brooks brought on sweet melodic hard rock vocals on top of his band's deep, heavy grooves.

One memorable movement involved a refrain of "Be Strong" on top of doomed sonic waves, giving the feeling of hopelessness. Things then went into a fighting metal frenzy, followed by a release from the doom that surged into a blast of hope--sort of like what a Metal Coldplay would sound like. That's the thing about Torche; heavy as they may be, there's an undeniable melody at play that gives their songs an added appeal.

Later, the band switched gears by saying they were going to do a "ballad for the women"--which saw them proceeding to do their most energized song of the night, complete with screams and all.

The audience loved it, of course, the moshpit by the stage growing to encapsulate most of the up-front performance area of the venue.

Soon thereafter came a quick encore, which almost didn't happen because of a broken cymbal. With most members of the loyal crowd chanting "Encore!" in spite of the band's fervent head-shakes of denial, Torche eventually finished the night with their mellowest take of the evening.

The crowd didn't respond to this song as well as others, but, nevertheless, the message had already been sent; this was a show worth seeing. Unlike many other prog rock bands, Torche not only makes great compositions, but clearly knows what they're doing. Their performance was impressively tight, too--and that's no easy feat with multiple time signatures, wavy rhythms, and metal speed tempos throughout their material.

Earlier in the night, local opener The House Harkonnen offered a strong set, but nothing to get too excited about. Their music was well-rehearsed, tight, and strong, but nevertheless felt a bit cliché. And their long songs seemed more to hint at their endurance than their musicianship. The crowd enjoyed the show though, with most people head-banging along by the final song.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I have worked with prog rock bands before, so I was fairly prepared for this offering. But I had never heard Torche's music before, so this was an introduction for me.

By The Way: I should have brought earplugs. It was loud.

Random Note: The large mosh pit almost led to a fight between a man and a couple. That was interesting.

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