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TorcheMeanderthal**** 1/2 stars

When it comes to marrying pure, down-tuned metal and sugarcoated pop hooks, there’s one band who, like a phoenix of awesomeness, rises above the rest.

That band is Torche.

Just listen to Meanderthal, the Miami band’s newest album, and you have to agree: Torche are onto something. Something big. And big is the operative word here. The guitars? BIG. The hooks? BIG. The production? BIG. From the opening vocal harmony on “Triumph of Venus” to the final bombing destruction of “Meanderthal,” Torche’s unmistakable brand of heavy rock can’t be stopped or denied.

Torche achieve this apex because every single member is at the top of their game. Vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks hits all the right notes, lead guitarist Juan Montoya layers his riffs like a champ, and bassist Jonathan Nuñez and drummer Rick Smith alternate between pounding and grooving with expert finesse.

While it sounds like I’m overstating the case for the pure rock fury that is Torche, I’m not. They’re like the Foo Fighters but heavier. Like Black Sabbath but catchier. Like the best shit you ever heard but, well, better.

In brief: Don’t sleep on this shit.

Torche will play at Satyricon this Saturday, Nov. 1. Tickets are $10

-Ed Johnson

Gregor SamsaRest**One question for all you post-rock-lite, Mogwai-loving bands out there: Why do it? Why expend so much energy and time creating music that, for the vast majority of listeners, will only be used as a type of sleep aid, an effective mood-setter for other, more important activity? Why create background music?

I only ask because at this point in the game, with the aforementioned Mogwai, as well as Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros and innumerable others beating the loud-quiet-loud thing to death, Gregor Samsa doesn’t need to exist. This sound has been done–and much better–by other people. Just stop it already.

A dozen musicians worked to create Rest, using guitars, pianos, drums, violins and angry catfish (I’m just guessing here, the liner notes don’t really clarify), for songs that slowly build into crescendos, rising and falling like the sun. And like the reliably setting sun, the music here is reliably boring. It’s a competent safety blanket for people who enjoy tedious and dull things.

-Ed Johnson