Torche / Iron Witch / Trojan Horse @ Moho Live, Manchester 13.09.12

Something for everyone tonight as Floridian sludge-popsters Torche return to Manchester after a gap of six years with Liverpudlian hardcore doomsters Iron Witch and proggy local boys Trojan Horse in tow. A trio of bands covering a gamut of musical styles but all having one aim in common – rocking the faces of all present clean off.

Sep 13th, 2012 at Moho Live, Manchester / By Paul Robertson
Torche / Iron Witch / Trojan Horse @ Moho Live, Manchester 13.09.12 Arriving at the venue straight from work Bearded discovered that Trojan Horse were already well into their set. Slightly annoying as we are quite familiar with their self-titled debut album of a couple of years back and was looking forward to hearing more recent material, perhaps from their recent Fire EP, which we are yet to hear.

Once in the venue, the band seemed to be at the tail end of one of their complex-yet-bruising mathy noise-prog tunes, culminating in mainman Nick Duke crashing to his impressively bearded knees and manipulating a series of loops atop the churning band. We were given the distinct idea that we’d missed a very good set indeed. Dammit.

A blast of screeching feedback signalled that Iron Witch had taken to the stage, followed by all hell breaking loose....very.....slowly. Firmly from the Eyehategod school of vitriolic hardcore-inflected sludge, this quintet of ne'er-do-well Scousers manage the near impossible feat of making their influences utterly transparent but still performing with enough conviction and fire to make the listener not care and just enjoy them for what they are – a virulent assault of filth-ridden sludge that lurches into skin-peeling hardcore riffage, tightly delivered with murderous intent by bearded gents and a shrieking maniac.

It seemed as though the boys even brought their own fan club with them, judging by the persistent shouts for their debut 7” track ‘Single Malt’. After tonight's performance they'll have surely added a few more fans to the fold.

Straight off the bat, Torche were loud. Actually, loud may be somewhat of an understatement. They were cataclysmic, seismic even. Setting foot on a Manchester stage for the first time in six years, Steve Brooks and the boys were clearly aiming to make an impression, and make an impression they most certainly did.

Smashing their way through a selection of tracks mostly covering their Meanderthal LP and their most recent offering Harmonicraft, Torche were on fire. Sporting a hawaiian shirt that rivalled the band themselves for loudness, Brooks dealt out both lead-heavy metallic riffing and gorgeously melodic pop hooks with ease and aplomb, his vocals sweetly meshing with new-boy guitarist Andrew Elstner's strident backing vocals.

The engine room of bassist Jonathan Nuñez and drummer Rick Smith powered the set mercilessly, Nuñez' bass sounding as though it was strung with live electrical cables and Smith smashing seven bells out of his drum kit so enthusiastically that he had to change snares a couple of songs into the set. Nuñez also contributed to the overwhelming volume by triggering snaking loops of churning bass between songs.

The sheer volume itself was incredible, but when Brooks and Elstner switched to their trademark 'Z-Tuned' guitars for the last couple of songs of the set, the battering became physical as the amplified rumble of the strings flapping around guitar necks seriously pounded the band's sound home.

From twinkling melodies and harmonised vocals to Slayer-esque rhythmic grind within the space of seconds, Torche were shiny, tight and fierce to the extreme tonight. Hopefully they won't leave it another six years to return and thoroughly level Manchester once and for all.