Asbury continues to crank out great new bands and songwriters that not only show a commitment to writing but also show a vast array of passionate influences and original takes on both new and old music styles alike. Being at the forefront of viewing bands and songwriters that come into the area since the early 1980s, I see both the good and the bad of change and evolution when it comes to new bands and writers that come into town to make their mark. And trust me, it’s a never-ending journey. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to new bands stepping up to the plate and I’ve never let anything phase me when they show up. I would have to guestimate that most of what I’ve seen in the past couple of decades has been on dead on the mark. There are always a few bands that just don’t cut it, but they are few and far between.
Some of the latest bands to bring surf rock back to the area are groups such as Great White Caps, Black Flamingos, Satan’s Pilgrims and The Volcanics. Also, we can’t forget Dentist, a band that combines surf with pop, rock, and punk and do a hell of a job making it work. These are just a few, and there are many more that I can’t name right now. The fact that they play surf music and keep that style alive is the point, and they all do it with their own distinct style and original taste.
But the latest band on the scene combines hard, massive hitting expertise with surf rock and it works like clockwork. That band is called Tiki Torture.
Tiki Torture is a hard-hitting and riff-driven surf metal band based out of Asbury Park, NJ. The lineup consists of Chaz Piancone on guitar and vox, Joey Splits on Bass and Eric Pierce on drums.
The entire goal of this band is to have fun. They say that they want the audience to enjoy listening to them play as much as they enjoy playing for them. Tiki Torture takes this very seriously. They say that they have gone so far as to scientifically research and discover a way to make “Whiskey Bubble Machines” (that make booze bubbles), throwing out inflatable sharks with tattoos, wearing tiki masks, matching Hawaiian shirts (that they turned into vests) and a skeleton leotard that glows in the dark.
Tiki Torture shows are upbeat and driven hard to ensure no dull moments. The band even created personas as tiki gods (which I love) that have risen from the depths of the Bermuda Triangle in an attempt to destroy mankind. They also do something I don’t see too much these days when it comes to helping others. Tiki Torture has a bucket that gets put out every show to take donations for a specific charity or cause, to give back to the community. Yep, money they could keep for themselves goes straight to people that need it more than we do.
When it comes to influential gods, Tiki Torture’s main influences come from bands like Dick Dale and his Deltones, D.R.I., The Mermen, Exodus, The Ventures, Overkill and The Coffin Daggers. Overkill? Yep. The group can get heavy at times, and they claim Overkill for that critical piece of the puzzle. So let’s take a listen to Tiki Torture brand new self-titled project and see what’s what.
The first song up is called “Venus Guy Trap”. An instrumental piece filled with complex chord changes and rhythmic adventure. “Venus Guy Trap” runs the gamut when it comes to instrumental surf sounds. Blending traditional sounds with an attitude of heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll sounds. Chaz and the boys crank up the volume and the style to get to their point. Guitars are both surfy and tinged with metal. There’s nothing typical about the sound of this surf-ish band, and they go through their paces with attitude and flair. The middle-eight blends a funky rhythm with comped guitar chords and funky bass before returning to their surf theme. Chaz has a distinct sound, and his playing is top-notch on the song. The composition itself is filled with attitude and complex change throughout. I really love the guitar tones. They go from clean, reverb-drenched single line notes to an almost blistering tone of metal without losing the effectiveness of the piece. Chaz Piconne has really come up with a savvy sound with his bandmates, and it works like gangbusters.
“Affliction” is up next. Blending punk rock with snarling vocals Chaz really keeps things move on this track. This actually reminds me of The Dead Boys with its riff-oriented guitar and heavy bass and drums. Once again, Chaz lays a mixture of guitar riffs, complex single-note runs and all the cacophonic glory of the Sex Pistols within the 3:13 of compositional experimentation. Vocally speaking, Chaz rips a snarling barrage of lyrical blitzkrieg over the top of heavy rhythmic passages that really make this song cook. After listening to this song three or four times, I’d bet this is a favorite at live shows.
The next song up is called “Cherry Topper”. Chaz and the boys get a bit political here as they chastise law enforcement imperfections. Once again, Piconne belts out solid vocals in the vein of Dead Boys or Anthrax as he blows his lyrical content over the top of fantastic guitar riffs and heavy chord patterns. I really love the backbone of this song as it changes and mixes to get the point driven home. Chaz does some outstanding slide guitar work in the middle-eight before returning to riff-driven thunder.
“Moose Knuckle” ends this too short demo. Once again blending punk and metal. Tiki Torture grinds through their longest song on the disc. At 6:20, there’s plenty of savvy to experience here. With a vocal sound similar to original Anthrax front guy Joey Belladonna, Chaz tells the tale of that all-inspiring and treasured knuckle that delivers us all from evil (or puts us straight back into it) as he sings about its treasure. The guitar work here is out of control and blends stellar effects with grit and tube fueled gems under Piconne’s deft hand. Superb rhythm work is courtesy of Joey Splits (bass) and Eric Pierce on drums. This is a fantastic trio and rare to find as they genuinely rip as a three-piece without additional musicians.
Tiki Torture has plans for a full-length soon, and I can’t wait to hear it. This is an excellent band with tons to offer, and I really think you’re going to love them. In the meantime. Go see them live at The Brighton Bar with Agent Orange on August 19.
For more information, please check them out on Facebook and check out their music at soundcloud.com/tiki-torture/sets/demo-2018.