Connor Harlan, Editor-in-Chief

Touché Amore has yet to make a bad record. I can’t even think of a time that they’ve even released a disappointing one. In the age of cut-and-dry post-hardcore and emo bands, Touché Amore consistently delivers music that can be carried exclusively by their trademark emotive performances. The previous record, “…Is Survived By” was my favorite in their discography, adding elements of post-rock into the mix, while still providing blisteringly rough and explosive tracks. I purposely secluded myself from the newest singles put out in the weeks leading up to their newest album’s release, and to be quite honest, “Stage Four” is another emotional rollercoaster that culminates in a fantastic release from the band.

“Stage Four” is the band’s first release following lead vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s leave of absence due to the tragic death of his mother. From what I’ve gathered from the record, Bolm’s mother was a cancer patient in the fourth stage of the disease. The type of cancer is unclear, but the feelings absolutely are. Lyrically, the intensity of this album is captured right from the beginning on the blistering “Flowers and You.” If there’s one thing about this track that just has to be praised, it’s the immediacy of the words he says. Vivid visuals are given on this track, and this sort of imagery runs throughout the album. We’re given set pieces like hospital beds, long hallways, and the even the sunny beaches of California. Intensity is the name of the game with “Stage Four.” It’s intentionally written to be taxing, maudlin, and uncomfortable. The only true shortcomings of the record lie in some of the more atmospheric detours. Touché Amore has, for me at least, been a band that does genres like screamo and hardcore punk exceptionally well, and they just aren’t suited tastefully by post-rock inspired crescendos and spacey synthesizers landscapes. With that being said, such a small part of the album is occupied by these, and they work well enough in context, like a great deal of the ideas presented on this record.
“Stage Four” is a beautifully captivating piece of hardcore punk that can get you primed to bawl your eyes out, or spinkick your pit crew in the face.