Touche Amore Is Survived By
Change and growth is something seldom seen in the hardcore community and when done it is often done wrong. Touche Amore’s first record, to the beat of a dead horse, is a relatively straight forward hardcore album, featuring standard 2-minute long, fast songs. The post-hardcore elements were there but they were subtle, however the release of 2011’s Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, saw the band incorporating more melodic influences from peers such as Balance and Composure and La Dispute. At this point, it was clear that they had only been tapping slightly into their potential. The band adapted their style to fit their growth, seen when they released “Gravity, Metaphorically”, a four-minute epic, on a split with Pianos Become the Teeth earlier in 2013.
Is Survived By is the third record by the quintet and continues their trend of progressing forward with their sound. The focus on pace is replaced by focus on melody which the swaying opening riff of the first song reinforces. Beautiful guitar work is woven throughout the album, for instance the riff in the chorus of “Anyone/Anything” which is a prime example of the amazing musicianship found on the record. It carries along the vocal track, not being particularly flashy, just enough to create a lasting impression.
The most obvious example of the band’s continued growth is the stand-out track “Non Fiction” which changes from a quiet, simple number into a bright buildup with what sounds like a poem being recited before the whole band explodes and the poem is then screamed by Bolm. It’s heavy, not necessarily musically, but always emotionally.
“Just Exist” announces the lyrical themes of the album by questioning how Bolm will be remembered, “a song? / some words I wrote? / or a kid I’ll never see?” and his raw screams punctuate his worries. Another highlight of the record is “To Write Content”, which is one of the band’s brighter songs until a musical break in the middle. This part touches on Bolm’s openness, “expose all your secrets / to move units, display your weakness,” and describes a formula which works perfectly for this band.
The longer songs take up the majority of the record, the stunning single “Harbor” which starts slow and gradually builds into a bright ending, along with “Social Caterpillar” which sees the band write a chorus which is sure to be screamed along to at shows for years to come. These tracks which last 3-4 minutes are the highlights of the record, but that’s not to say the shorter songs in between are filler. “DNA” is the heaviest song on the album and is reminiscent of the band’s earlier work featuring some incredible drumming courtesy of Elliot Babin, while “Blue Angels” is another beautiful song with the last few lines being sung by Julia Blake of Vow behind Bolm’s screams, this juxtaposition is one of the albums greatest moments.
The final trio of songs is the perfect representation of the record. Starting with “Non Fiction”, building up into “Steps” which carries over a guitar riff from the previous track and leads perfectly into the big finale, “Is Survived By”. The title track continuously builds up before a musical break and the scream of “write a song that everyone can sing along to / so when you’re gone you can live on / they won’t forget you.” It’s a fitting, beautiful climax for an intense record. This is a band continuing to change and grow, finding their footing in the genre and, now, moving to the helm of it.