Review: Touché Amoré: Stage 4 (2016) (Epitaph)

Raw, guttural singing, lacking any semblance of range but always emoting with dramatic intensity, the post-hardcore emo stylings of Touché Amoré rise above those broad genre descriptors because of the songwriting and the musicianship. 
To say the songwriting is personal is an understatement.  The album is about the death of the lead singer Jeremy Bolm’s mother from cancer.  Each song seems to be a step in processing the loss and dealing with the guilt of not having been closer or not having had the relationship that we all might wish to have with our parents before they die.  In this case, the album is universal.  But, hallmark to Touché Amoré since their 2007 inception has been that these lyrics seem torn from Bolm’s journal, largely unvarnished and then inlaid into speedy guitar riffs and slamming drums.  That immediacy to the lyrics is still there but unlike the themes of purely personal anguish and questions of esteem found on previous albums such as Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me or the difficulties with his relationship with his father on Is Survived By, these songs pluck at more pained heart strings.  He sings on the in the second verse of the album’s opening song Flowers and You “I apologize for the grief / When you’d refuse to eat / I didn’t know just what to say / While watching you wither away.”  And another one off of New Halloween: “Somehow it’s already been a year / You keep finding new ways to make yourself reappear / I hope you never let me be / I haven’t found the courage to listen to your last message to me.”
This album is the most melodically complex of their music to date but it hasn’t sacrificed the fear, anger, and hope that characterize their music. It’s more mature, more pressing, and can be interpreted as a warning to people who still have their parents not to let them go without pushing to reconcile whatever needs to be.
In an interview with spin magazine, Bolm discusses his concern with these songs losing their raw intensity as he sings them over and over again at shows, but he claims seeing what these songs do to his fans will likely always have the power to bring that emotion back.
Listen to:
Stage 4:
New Halloween
Rapture
Palm Dreams
From Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me:

Wants/Needs

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