Whether or not you loved Touché Amoré in the past, there’s good news for you. As a standalone record, Is Survived By has that essence of being a timeless, post-hardcore record that’s one for the ages. If you’re looking to place it on their chronological rung of records, then it surpasses the already brilliant and impressive repertoire they’ve carved out for themselves. It’s as simple as that. Touche cut loose and this IS the hard-hitting record of their career that fans have been yearning for and craving since Jeremy Bolm decided to take the mic up and dictate his spin on Life.
“Just Exist” as an opener is a template of what Bolm does best and beastly – paint an audibly loud canvas of poetry. Bolm spews on love, relationships, legacy and mortality – themes prevalent throughout the record and this sets the mood. There’s a harsh finesse in the drums of Elliot Babin here and his frenetic, sometimes maddening pace, compliments the melody of Touche’s guitars perfectly. The intricacy here is labelled in spades and there’s great charm amid the dissonance that Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt’s guitars cultivate. Bolm’s throaty, hoarse and gravely delivery is most telling and profoundly legible in the typical Touche kind of manner.
Swaying guitar-licks and driving, poignant riffs as seen on “To Write Content'” ushers in a relapse of Touche’s older stuff. However, the prognosis here shows maturity, development and progression from the multitude of work prior to Is Survived By. Diagnosing the latitudes of emotional drivel that Bolm spews in between nifty and crafty solo riffs add layers of vulnerability and exposes the band’s lyrics much more than you’d initially anticipate. There’s a huge depressive spine discerned by what they put out this time around, but ascertaining as much, has never been tricky given the topics Bolm writes about usually.
Bolm and his band-mates amplify the dynamic of Touche in abundance. Their persona is under the microscope just as much as Bolm seems to wrap his lyrics like a rope around his neck. “DNA” is indicative of a nice blend of post-hardcore indie-punk that fights with bouts of emo-melodic tones and a gigantic fit of thrashing hardcore influence. They traverse genres with musical ingenuity and that type of sincerity; evident on the slick and glossy bass-play of Tyler Kirby, adds so much power to the mix. It’s more than fair play when the crashing cymbals and sonic mark of Babin’s drums echo along Bolm’s hardcore yells and whelps on paternal issues and relationships.
“Kerosone” continues substantially in the same vein. Patterning Touche into a musical category feels forced because their musical conviction and compassion, as this track shows, represents self-therapy for the band and potential medication for their fans. The rapidfire guitars condemn the practical notions and aspects of hardcore that Touche never condition themselves to. They’re simply here to occupy hemispheres of emotional resonance. The gassing vibe of honesty adds substantial wealth and character to Bolm’s words and these political strands of the heart linger with listeners for that extra mile. This unsubstantiated portrait envisioned is reminiscent of Geoff Rickly as Touche’s discord and musical showmanship ensnares you in their unabashed delivery and innate desire to overwhelm. It’s inherently tapered to the effect that their old records gave but more so, touching on that slightly new direction which “Gravity, Metaphorically” fashioned last January. You surely sensed something majestic a-coming back then.
The trio of songs that close the album set it afire more than the rest. “Non-Fiction” speaks on death, moving on, closure and acceptance. It’s torching to the soul. The slow guitars herald a ballad-esque tempo which swoons from calm and patient to a hazy, unpolished explosion of thunderous noise. It’s another crescendo-like poem. This barrels into “Steps” which orchestrates a faster spin on the previous track in a more punkish manner. The imperious and cavalier nature of Touche unfolds here as the dissolution of Bolm’s confidence is fraught to the listener. It shows how much he has to overcome as we segue into Babin’s marvelous marching-style drums on the title-track.
“Is Survived By” adds musical clout and instrumental discipline for greater effect – and Touche fans will obviously appreciate just why. Touche Amore’s sense of purpose has never been more prominent as seen on the sandbox that is THIS record. It’s their best work to date and it’s time well spent – biding and preparing. The epic machinations that Touche Amore usually flesh out with their handiwork just stepped up another notch. No need for an inquest when such is laid bare. Record of the Year? I’m pretty sure it will be.
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