The best hard rock, like the best pro wrestling, is full of inside jokes. Torche, which played a short, pummeling and overall happy set at Jaxx on Sunday, gets it.
The Miami quartet had self-dubbed its 2008 record, “Meanderthal,” as the “album of the year” in its liner notes, thereby justifying using “follow-up to the album of the year” in the cover blurb on last year’s EP “Songs for Singles.”
In a live setting, all the decibels and distortion required of a metal band can make the giggles harder to discern than a melody. But even while cranking out bombastic thrash with genre-appropriate titles like “Piranha” and “Face the Wall” (at volumes loud enough to peel the paint off said wall), Torche kept up the good humor, and its hooks proved strong enough to pierce the din.
Bassist Jonathan Nunez often broke out of a standard wide-stance headbanging pose to run to the edge of the stage and flash faux-menacing faces and fling forehead sweat onto the appreciative youngsters bunched up front.
Throughout “Olympus Mons,” drummer Rick Smith kicked a leg up wildly in the air as if falling off his throne while pounding out a Sabbath-on-cough-syrup beat brutal enough to knock over anything or anybody that wasn’t strapped in.
Founding guitarist Steve Brooks and just-added axman Andrew Elstner harmonized vocally and instrumentally on the grungy “Grenades.”
The playing of Smith, who relied more on his snare and less on his kick drum than a typical metal backbeater would, was particularly stunning, and caused a fan in back of the dark club to yell “Who’s the drummer? He’s awesome!” between more than one tune. It got laughs every time.