It was nice of Torche
to throw us a bone with the hefty 2010 EP Songs for Singles
, but it's been four years since Miami's stoner-sludge-pop standard-bearers have released a full-length. (I'm sure the departure of founding guitarist Juan Montoya following 2008's Meanderthal
didn't help.) A trio for only a short time, the band added former Riddle of Steel guitarist Andrew Elstner early last year, and on April 24 they'll end that long wait with the huge-sounding Harmonicraft
(Viacom)—its pastel-colored album artwork, littered with rainbow-spewing unicorn things, is worth the price of purchase alone. Torche use the same hook-centric approach here as they did on Songs for Singles
—Montoya definitely took some of the band's heaviness with him, and their trademark Z-string bombs are all but gone. Without batting an eye, they flawlessly shift from poppy mega-riff heaven to trudging, stomping, Hum-like walls of guitar (see "Snakes Are Charmed"). Thankfully all other parts remain intact: Steve Brooks continues to slay guitar licks and sing in a clear, reverberant voice that always makes me think of 90s alt-rock, and Rick Smith still annihilates on the drums. I have faith that Torche will never let us forget that they can crush us at will—check out "Sky Trials," for instance—but a song like "Kicking
" has "radio friendly" written all over it, right down to the whooshing guitar effects and light-show-worthy minute-long breakdown. Not that I'm complaining . . . too much. —Kevin Warwick Corrosion of Conformity headlines; Torche, Valient Thorr, and A Storm of Light open.