Touché Amoré’s Is Survived By is less an exercise in creating music than it is an emotional outpouring that happened to take place in a studio. The L.A. five-piece’s third full-length LP scours the depths of human experience and returns with a chilling tale of personal reflection in the face of total uncertainty. Is Survived By takes post-hardcore’s emotional potency to its extreme.
On the album opener “Just Exist,” lyricist and vocalist Jeremy Bolm confesses that he often dismisses his mortality. He lacks the confidence to address his problems head-on, he knows it, and he shows it in strong lyrics.
Bolm’s intense vocal delivery sets him apart from other singers, even within the post-hardcore genre. His screams capture every ounce of his deepest feelings and they contrast sharply with the moments when he winds down the volume for slower, but just as earnest, lines.
On some tracks, the vocals prove chill-inducing. During the frenetic ending of “Harbor,” Bolm wails, “What I’m afraid of is what is certain and / What I’m sure of is that it’s on me / But I’m too tired to be that person / And that person needs to be set free.”
Is Survived By raises Touché Amoré’s musical style to a new, refined level. Whereas 2011’s Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me beat the listener over the head with its barrage of short, intense songs, Is Survived By paces itself much more deliberately.
Touché still has the same loud drums and clashing guitars as always, but this time slowed down segments with some brilliantly somber guitar work offset the chaos. “Non Fiction,” for example, starts with a long instrumental opening with quiet backing vocals that give way to a crashing finale.
In the closing and title track, Bolm and the rest of Touché Amoré bring it all together with a stirring ending. As the band breaks out of a vicious bridge, Bolm chants “This is survived by a love / This is survived by a cause,” wondering if he will ever leave a legacy when he is gone.
With an LP as compelling as Is Survived By, Touché Amoré’s legacy is secure. They should be survived by the next generation of inspired hardcore rockers.
Voice’s Choices: “Is Survived By,” “Harbor”