Touche Amore‘s last album, Is Survived By, was the one that started to shy away from the brash, coarse post-hardcore/screamo trope that saw them become one of the banner-men of The Wave. As that movement subsided with the bands finding their own voices and some, a mainstream route, TA followed Pianos Become The Teeth to Epitaph. Stage Four finds them doing something similar in terms of a melodic musical shift but what sparks the record to life is that it follows up from the questions of mortality posed by TA’s 2013 record. This time around, TA address the death of Sandy — mother of vocalist Jeremy Bolm in a brutally honest eulogy.
Tracks like “Rapture” and “Flowers and You” all represent how TA have leaned towards a more upbeat and dialed back version of post-hardcore. Rhythmic, swooning guitars as opposed to crushing riffs and chords. The melodies can’t be stressed enough with solos cutting at you at every turn. Bolm’s words rip through you as he describes the pain of losing his mom as well as a narrative that saw him avoiding her voice mails right up until when she died — which he also missed as he was socializing after Fest. He documents in detail how he avoided watching his hero wither away. “Benediction” is another example of this. He also drops into a rare monotone pattern of singing on songs like “Water Damage” and “Skyscraper” which all have lush guitars, shoegaze tones and so much more wrapped into his throaty, hoarse take on evolving TA’s post-hardcore sound. It isn’t the loud TA of old but it’s still pretty explosive. And just as emotive. Right up there with Is Survived By and right up there with the albums that’ll top 2016.
4.5 /5 Stars