Torche bassist Jonathan Nuñez is holed up at Pinecrust, his Miami home studio, putting the finishing touches on the Florida alt-metal band’s as-yet-untitled, fourth full-length album. “Pretty much all the tracks are done,” Nuñez tells Rolling Stone before adding some overdubs to a new track. “We did [2012’s] Harmonicraft here as well,” Nuñez says. “We feel comfortable, and there’s a certain creative flow and freedom when we’re working on our own.”
Notwithstanding a few other overdubs at a friend’s Miami Beach studio, nearly everything for the album, the first for metal stalwart Relapse Records, has been recorded here. Nuñez moved into the house about a year before Harmonicraft, and the studio’s only gotten more versatile and equipped since.
The band hunkered down for two writing sessions, starting the album right before Thanksgiving and continuing during a weeklong stint right before recording. The forthcoming album was “mostly all written together as a group with the exception of a few songs” when everyone was in Miami for a few weeks in February. Nuñez is producing the new album, with Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou taking on mixing duties. Nuñez describes a pretty serious working experience, one bereft of partying or Miami nightlife. “We didn’t have a bunch of time with everyone traveling, so we had a tight schedule,” he says. “It was pretty nonstop. I would wake up, have breakfast, start recording, then usually hang out for an hour at most, then go to sleep almost every night.”
While they’ve whittled the release down to a concise 10 songs, most of them still have working titles. Those names, along with the album’s, will come along once the artwork is finished. And while there’s no official release date yet, Nuñez says it will drop in the summertime and be followed by tour dates in late summer or early fall.
Nuñez calls the tentatively titled “Bishop in Arms” one of the album’s most interesting songs. “The music is like what we do, along with Motörhead: very driving, very heavy on the toms, real pounding rhythm section, the guitars are just nonstop, but with a melodic twist,” he says. “Then the vocals come in, and it’s this whole Psychedelic Furs—and maybe Guided By Voices—phrasing. It’s an exciting song. We were like, ‘Whoa.’ None of us saw that coming. I think that’s what keeps us entertained.”
Elsewhere, the slower, heavier “Minions” is “a classic Torche song,” according to Nuñez. “There’s very catchy little riffs. It’s very identifiable. There’s some elements of ambience and it just feels good. It’s a heavy, melodic crusher.”
While “Minions” may hew closer to what fans would expect of the band, other tracks will mess with their preconceptions. “We wouldn’t have it any other way,” Nuñez says with a chuckle. “There are songs with, I don’t know, man, a heavy ’80s pop song [vibe]. Maybe it’s my fault because it’s a song I wrote. That Eighties song is heavy, man.”
Following last year’s shuttering of Volcom Entertainment, the label that released Harmonicraft, Torche entertained offers from a few labels, but also contacted a few directly. Singer Steve Brooks reached out to Relapse, with the two parties meeting up around Christmas when Torche were touring with Hot Water Music. One night, over dinner in Philadelphia, they hit it off. “They’re music fanatics,” Nuñez says. “Lucky for us, they’ve liked us since our first release. The vibe was right in person, which is very important. After that, they sent over the paperwork, and it was smooth sailing. They’ve been extremely helpful, and I can’t believe they haven’t heard anything [from the new album] yet. They’re not pushy; they’re very relaxed. They know what they’re doing, and they do it well.”
Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that their new label home — which boasts punishing bands like Black Tusk, Windhand, Tombs, and Disfear — will release what Nuñez says is Torche’s hardest record to date. Nuñez, for one, is already excited about hearing how the band’s fanbase will respond. “They’re gonna be like, ‘Finally! They stopped fuckin’ around. They’re heavy again!'” he says. “Some people will think it’s different, but has continuity with the other stuff. But there will be the people who come back and say, ‘Oh, I like them again. They’re heavier than ever.’ That word will be brought up a lot.”