Touché Amoré

Is Survived By

Written by: DR on 14/11/2013 21:04:45

Touché Amoré's second LP, "Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me", helped open the band up to an audience beyond that of their hardcore scene, such was its immediacy and accessibility. Following its release and subsequent acclaim, they went on tour in support of Converge, Circa Survive and Rise Against around the US and Europe. But although that record struck firmly and quickly, it never really held up over time - at least not in the way that their debut has or their contemporaries' releases from the same year have.

One of its biggest problems was that its lyrical content wasn't particularly deep; frontman Jeremy Bolm only skimmed the surface of his inner anxiety, making mountains out of emotional molehills that were difficult to empathise with, relate to or care about. However, "Is Survived By", their third LP, is a record much denser and deeper - sonically and lyrically. Bolm delves inwardly into himself, and writes honestly and about what he finds - his social anxiety, exposing one's secrets in order to sell records, trying to avoid the same mistakes as his father, the need for and learning to accept love, and he even goes meta as he writes about writing and not wanting to fake anything - all coming together underneath the theme of what Bolm wants his legacy to be and how he wants to be remembered.

Indeed, "I was once asked how I'd like to be remembered", from the phenomenal "Just Exist", is one of the most thought-provoking opening lyrics of all 2013. But not only is he at his most introspective and cutting to date, showing how far he has come as a lyricist by constantly engaging the listener throughout, he has also improved considerably as a vocalist. His trademark shouts remain, but they are no longer melodramatic or unconvincing. They are sharper, more intense and have a greater emotional impact in their catharsis and how they represent emotions with which we can relate. Although such honesty is no doubt uncomfortable and challenging for Bolm, it brings the best out of him as a lyricist and a vocalist - his performance is entirely more affecting and effective for it.

However, although Bolm is likely to get a lot of the attention, "Is Survived By" is founded on a diverse and consistently-gripping instrumental backbone which deserves immense credit. The quiet/loud structure is often stuck to, but the quieter moments possess a poise and space unlike before, and the intensity levels of louder hardcore/screamo-inspired outbursts have increased significantly. Fans of their previous work will no doubt love the energy of the typically hardcore-punk efforts like "Kerosene", "Just Exist" and "Anyone/Anything", while the likes of "Social Caterpillar"and "To Write Content" show Touché Amoré fleshing their song-writing out more-so than on previous LPs as they perfectly break the frantic, cathartic outbursts with more immersive spacious elements. And then there are efforts you never thought you would hear from this band, like "Non Fiction", which nods unashamedly to the sparkling build up of emo bands before its rousing crescendo, and the quiet, spoken word track "Praise/Love", intimate in a way never before captured by this band. Even more surprising is that Touché Amoré are also giving greater attention to creating melodies, as heard in the cascading musicianship of "Harbor" and the infectious dual-vocal refrain towards the end of "Steps" (with Jon Simmons of Balance and Composure).

Stating a strong claim for being the best song Touché Amoré have ever penned and bringing an answer to the question posed at the album's opening is the closing title-track. At three and a half minutes it's the longest song on the record, but in that time it combines the spacious, emo-influenced noodling and spacious post-rock build up with relentless hardcore energy, furious black-metal-esque blast beats and a soaring emotional and instrumental crescendo that will leave you breathless. More than that, though, it represents everything great about "Is Survived By": at its core it still has the passion and aggression that drove Touché Amoré's younger selves, only now they create with a scope expanded beyond their hardcore scene, and they ask more questions of themselves and of us. The result is the best album of their career - diverse, cohesive and immensely consistent. Touché Amoré are still hardcore kids at heart, but after "Is Survived By" they will taking that mentality and drive to bigger stages, with bigger audiences and more people singing along, only now with their name in lights.

Download: Just Exist, Harbor, Steps, Is Survived By
For The Fans of: Defeater, Pianos Become The Teeth, La Dispute
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 24.09.2013
Deathwish Inc.

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