Miami metal legends Torche return to Savannah for a special Monday night show on a mini southeastern tour before playing The Fest in Gainesville, Fla.
Torche has a storied history with Savannah and The Jinx. In the early days, they connected with the southern sludge metal scene, which included Savannah’s Kylesa, one of the genre’s co-founders. They played a house show once here, and The Jinx several times, leaving a number of pieces of memorabilia on its walls.
The first time Torche toured Europe, they did so with Savannah-founded Baroness. John Dyer Baizley, frontman for Baroness, penned the artwork for a re-release of Torche’s self-titled debut album, as well as T-shirt designs.
Since those early days, in the first part of the current century, Torche has toured the world, released four studio albums and garnered national acclaim as a foremost act in the metal world. Torche’s 2008 album, “Meanderthal,” earned praise from Pitchfork and Decibel Magazine, the latter of which named it the No. 1 album of the year. Their last album, 2015’s “Restarter,” also earned high acclaim.
Torche built a following behind a unique concoction, a somewhat undefinable brand of doom metal, sludge, noise and hard rock. Formed by frontman Steve Brooks in 2004 after his noisy doom metal band Floor first called it quits, Torche carried on the intensity of Floor through a new sonic filter. They’ve toured with Kylesa, Baroness, Clutch, Hot Water Music, The Sword, Isis, Mogwai, Coheed and Cambria and Pelican.
Last year, the band went through some changes in personnel. Guitarist Andrew Elstner parted ways and founding bassist Jonathan Nunez switched over to guitar. Eric Hernandez took over bass duties.
This year, they announced the recording of a new album, their fifth studio effort and second on Relapse Records. The Pennsylvania label has also put out albums from Kylesa and Baroness, and was the longtime home to Savannah’s Black Tusk.
“I think that’s what makes a good record, when you have four people stoked on certain things,” Nunez said. “The energy is there. I feel like this new record is going to be — it’s way more of a punch in the gut, sonically. I am stoked to get it out there. I feel like it’s a huge wave of refreshing vibes for the band. From here on out, we’re going to be cranking stuff out way more often.”
In the last few years, Torche’s individual members have been focused on their own side projects, but have recently shifted stronger focus back to the band. Nunez just moved back to Miami, after some time in Los Angeles. Hernandez and drummer Rick Smith also live there, making it easier for the group to write these days. Brooks lives in Los Angeles. Nunez has set up a new recording studio and lately they’ve been cranking out new material.
“We’re working how we want to pace ourselves,” Nunez said. “On this one, we just took some time ... I think we went pretty far with supporting the last record. Even when we started to pick up on our new business things, we definitely had an excitement for it. We’re not burnt doing the same loop over and over. We have new music. It’s all lined up well.
“Our work, if it’s balanced right, it can be super enjoyable. It all complements each other. Rick, our drummer, does killer merch and a lot of limited stuff with bands that are fairly obscure. He can keep himself entertained not only with local bands, but bands he’s into.
“There’s more excitement since the three of us can write stuff, send it over to Steve, and he can do a demo vocal.”
For the mini-tour, Torche will break out a few of the new tracks from the forthcoming album, as well as classic tunes.
“If you’re listening, you can hear that we’re into different stuff,” Nunez said. “On this new record, it’s further along. You can hear it. Yes, this is Torche, but maybe in a sense, on our records, the more we’re writing, it reveals more and more the roots of what influences us and maybe certain things that we’ve created via our influences. By playing live and creating our own thing, with every album, it’s a little bit more revealing, hopefully.”