20 November 2016
Touché Amoré - Stage Four
Touché Amoré are a Post Hardcore band from Los Angeles, California, USA and they formed in 2007. This album I am reviewing is their fourth release and it deals with the passing of vocalists Jeremy Bolm's mother and the after effects of such an event, something I can sadly relate to all too easily. The album has a double meaning as 'Stage Four' can refer to the fact that this is the fourth album they have released (their first for Epitaph) and it is also the name for highest level of cancer staging. I first heard Touché Amoré covering 'Lounge Act' by Nirvana on the cover tribute to 'Nevermind' called 'Whatever Nevermind', it was a decent number and I thought about checking out further releases in the future; however, this album has been one that I have started to receive weekly request to review from people (not the band or their representatives, but fans of the band). I will admit, I have been avoiding a little as an album about the loss of a Mother is still a tough subject for me, even all these year on from my own experiences of that event. But I have been wanting to review it and now it is time to put pen to paper so to speak, time to start the review.....
01 - Flowers and You
Setting the scene for the rest of the album, 'Flowers and You' deals with having to go through watching your love ones fade before your eyes, the feeling of helplessness that is sometimes overwhelming and the fact that there are times you can do nothing about things. It is hard to explain to some people how it feels in those circumstances, but this is very close to articulating it. The music is post-hardcore noise and you can hear that the band are supporting Bolm with a passionate performance here. It is a hard-opening track for me, but one that is so well played.
02 - New Halloween
This is the song I connect with the most on the album, the passing of time and memories creeping on you and the guilt that can be had by not being there at the moment of a love ones passing. I sadly know that all too well, the fact that you cannot listen to songs as they are too hard, that they would not have been able to know you were in the room as they breathed their last breath, trying to make them proud in your acts; I know all of that so well, it is such a beautiful song and I hope that Jeremy does have the courage to listen to that last message; the music is a support act in this song, the lyrics are all consuming and it works so well. In the lyrics, he says he hopes she never leaves him, they never do sir, they are always there.
03 - Rapture
'Rapture' deals with the Christian belief that there is a day to come when all the good souls will ascend into heaven and all the non-believers will remain on earth for judgement; it compares the loss of a loved one to that event, again it is easy to see why. Musically, it takes a darker tone and the emotive vocals are powerful once more, giving another heart-breaking performance on this album.
04 - Displacement
Oh, this one is a hard one to listen to; it is about how Jeremy Bolm is a non-believer and wishes there was a heaven, so his Mother would be welcomed by her God. But it also details his anger with God for letting this happen to his Mother and that how he could believe that anyone who would let this happen. Once again, it is a beautiful post-hardcore number where the lyrical content is so passionate and over powering that it is hard to hear at times, but what a song, it is so powerful and to the point that I can feel my emotions coming to the surface once again.
05 - Benediction
Set to the tune of Edelweiss from 'The Sound of Music', 'Benediction' is a hymnal which obviously deals with the pain of having to bury your loved one. The pain does not lessen with further listens, it is still as powerful with each play and you can only imagine what he is going through; sadly, it is something that I once again relate to, something I would not wish on my worst enemy and it is performed brilliantly.
06 - Eight Seconds
The title of the song is a venue in Gainesville, FL where the band were playing as Mr Bolm’s Mother past away, so it is dealing with the moment that he found out what had happened as he was living his dream. It is such a tragedy that this is how it happened, the song is so painful like a lot of this album; musically it is just as powerful and it is over so soon.
07 - Palm Dreams
'Palm Dreams' deals with not being to ask questions from someone who has passed on, in this case it is all about Mr Bolm not being able to find out directly why his Mother moved from Nebraska to California; he is sure he could find out from other family members, but he would never hear the answer from the person who has gone and would not be able to assume any other answer was the truth. It is a haunting number, musically it is one of the strongest on the album, with a memorable riff that stays with you long after it has finished playing.
08 - Softer Spoken
We are approaching the end of the album, the emotions are still raw and the tank is not as full as before. But 'Softer Spoken' is all about that sort of situation, when you feel like you cannot give any more, but there is no end to the pain and you are still having to go through it. It is a subtle number in comparison to other tracks on the album, a little lighter than others as well; but still emotionally heavy on the heart and soul.
09 - Posing Holy
A song about going through a religious service as a non-believer, carrying the loss of a loved one as a torch as we hold on and move forward. I can once again relate to this one all too well; musically it continues the great performance from the band here, it is once more just a beautiful number that lets those left behind know they are not alone and others are out there who have experienced a similar scenario.
10 - Water Damage
'Water Damage' is the penultimate song of the album, this one is dealing with past events and how they can haunt you. The past is both a beautiful and dangerous place, where you can forever be second guessing what could have been. It is hard to listen to at time, the music matches the emotive music and you can feel the pain in each note.
11 - Skyscraper
'Skyscraper' is the final song of the album, it takes a detour in sound from the rest of the album as the vocals are not screamed (for the most part), it is sung and the music is haunting as well. Comparisons have been made by other reviewers that this is similar in style to The National and I can see where they are coming from, it does contain some haunting musical passages and the backing vocals supplied by Julien Baker. At the end of the song, there is a recording of the last voicemail that was left by Jeremy Bolm's Mother, which is hard to listen to after the last eleven tracks. A strong, beautiful and unexpected ending to this post-hardcore album.
I am not going to lie here, this is not an easy album and not one that I feel I will be able to return to often. The emotions are laid bare for all to see and it hurts so much in ways that only people who have experienced this type of loss will understand, for others it will still be painful to hear such a raw experience. This is not to say the music is awful, far from it; this is a great album, a brilliant piece of post hardcore and a fitting tribute to Jeremy Bolm’s mother and a cathartic experience for the band. It is so relatable that I have tears as I type this, which shows how powerful an album 'Stage Four' is; this is a fine tribute and definitely a great record, but approach with care as it lays everything out for you to see.
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost....
Top track - New Halloween
You can purchase Stage Four on Amazon here.
You can purchase Stage Four from the Touché Amoré Bandcamp page here.
You can visit the Touché Amoré website here.
You can follow the activities of Touché Amoré on Facebook here.
You can stream Stage Four on Deezer here.
You can stream the Deluxe version of Stage Four on Spotify here.
You can stream Stage Four on Tidal here.
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- Almost there... A blog update
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