Floor – Oblation (Season of Mist)Sunday, 11th May 2014
Being unfamiliar with Torche and Floor’s previous work, I came into Oblation without particular bias or expectation. Perhaps it’s to this end that, with all things taken into account here, it’s difficult to see what the big deal is. Stoner/doom/whatever stripped of its length and fuzzed out to the point it’s often just a sky-high wall of guitar, Oblation swings for a kind of punchy catchiness that Mastodon nailed a decade a go and has since moved onto greener pastures. Maybe it’s the kind of thing you have to be familiar with the history of the group to hold an appreciation for, but as it stands at 14 tracks and a surprisingly patience-pushing 44 minutes, Oblation leaves a few things to be desired.
The name of the game here is a two guitar and drums (no bass) doing everything it can to pulverize you into oblivion between patches of catchiness and a kind of sunny hookyness that defines the best in pop endeavors. It’s in this the album tends to fall flat. Singing and propulsion do not on their own create hooks, and this is usually the biggest issue. The riffs are big and fat and wash over the listener in a tide of hazy force (kinda like a fog of hammers), but it’s rare anything HITS. Opener, “Oblation” or mid-album “New Man” or late album “War Party”, all variations on the core theme of a couple themes of enormity packed into 3-minute spreads. The brevity is appreciated but it doesn’t recoup the lack of tangible places in which to grab onto these songs.
And blandness really seems to be the core theme here, for across the 14 songs (15 if you go elsewhere) only a handful really stand out for any length of time, like “Homegoings and Transitions” and “Sister Sophia.” Otherwise the tracks really tend to bleed together with little to distinguish them apart and over the course of the 44 minutes, it can lead to a kind of perpetual feeling of “Where am I?” Likely if you’re familiar with the band and you’ve been waiting on this release since 2002 it’s unlikely this review is going to change your mind (and that’s fine). For anyone else unfamiliar with the legacy involved and the subsequent fanfare attached to this release, you’re not missing out on much, for there ample releases otherwise out there this year to suit your needs.