Music preview: Torche’s self-contained universe is unlike any other in heavy music

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From the May 30, 2013 edition

The first words out of Torche bassist Jonathan Nuñez’s mouth when I asked him where he was calling from last week: “We are in Costa Mesa, California, which is pretty much Orange County. This is where they shoot ‘Arrested Development.’”

Nuñez is part of the faithful throng that was zealously anticipating last weekend’s 15-episodes-at-once Netflix dump. And presumably by the time he reaches Columbus for Torche’s show Tuesday at Ace of Cups, he’ll be fully versed in the cult favorite comedy’s fourth season and ready to relive all the inside jokes with the rest of you, so buy him a beer and get ready to talk banana stand.

Torche’s following is not quite as intense as the maniacal niche that follows the Bluth family’s exploits, but the Miami quartet’s music certainly matches that intensity. And like Mitch Hurwitz’s TV show, Torche’s music is unique and wonderful enough that if they went away for a few years, a fanatical following might accumulate then rally to bring them back.

No need for that kind of campaign, though, because Torche keeps churning out new music at a prodigious clip. That four-year gap between 2008’s Meanderthal and last year’s Harmonicraft seems excessively lengthy until you remember how many singles, splits and EPs Torche released in the interim, including one EP (2010’s eight-track Songs For Singles) that might as well have been an LP.

Those records comprise a self-contained universe that’s unlike any other heavy music out there. Given the band’s lurching low-end and frontman Steve Brooks’ prior tour of duty with Floor, Torche is ostensibly a sludge or doom metal band, but the melodic component of their music is so front-and-center that it feels like a genre to itself.

“People are so quick to label things,” Nuñez said. “Sometimes it’s just kind of like, there’s more to it than just trying to categorize every single little aspect of someone’s sound.”

Torche’s supporting acts Tuesday are just as notable: frequent Columbus visitors KEN mode, among the year’s most talked-about metal bands, and hometown heroes Lo-Pan, who keep hitting the road with some of the biggest names in underground metal.

“We’ve played with them a bunch, and we’ve known a couple of those guys for some time now,” Nuñez said. “They hit us up about it, and it lined up perfectly.”

Gary Copeland photo