Stage Four Album Review
Released September 16, 2016
Genre: Alternative Rock, Emotional Hardcore, Post-Hardcore
This isn’t the first time an album has dealt with loss. It’s not even the first time an album of this genre has dealt with loss. It’s not even the first time this band has dealt with loss. However, it’s the first time in awhile an album has dealt with one specific episode of loss and fleshed it out so well without sounding repetitive. Touché Amore has come through with their most clearly personal album yet, another fantastic album in their discography.
The title Stage Four refers to the fact that this is the fourth LP from this band, as well as singer Jeremy Bolm’s mother’s stage four cancer diagnosis. Mrs. Bolm’s struggle with and her eventual succumbing to cancer constitutes the entire lyrical content of this album. Jeremy’s lyrics are more clearly centered around personal anecdotes and events surrounding her battle, causing his words to be more clear and less general than past Touché releases. His lyrics has always been bitingly honest, but these accounts of grief and regret that he delves into are absolutely gut-wrenching.
“Displacement” deals with not his struggle with his own faith, but his anger directed at his mother’s faith. He can’t “worship the god that let [his mom] fall apart,” a line he delivers with a vindictive scream. Attacking the religion that was supposed to protect his mother underlines the extent of his anguish in the wake of her death. “New Halloween” deals more directly with the regret of leaving his mom during her most difficult moments. Jeremy recounts how “he went out all the time” for introspection because he didn’t know how to help his mom. This line closes out each chorus on the song and drives home the extent of Jeremy’s struggle with this situation.
The choruses on this song are, for one, actually here quite frequently. This is still the same Touché, but with more conventional and slightly longer song structures. These aren’t just 90 second blasts of punk energy. These are 3 minute emotional rock songs, but still delivered with a punk honesty and sentiment. The production is even brighter and clearer than the last full-length, Is Survived By, but the guitar tones help the songs absolutely sing out during the climaxes of the record. The alternative rock influences come through in a great way on this album.
The only downside is the song “Benediction,” which sounds too much like a Balance and Composure track to fit the flow of the record. It’s directly followed up with “8 Seconds,” which sounds like a 2010’s era Touché song, so maybe that contrast is intentional. Stage Four is a beautifully and deeply personal album that demonstrates the band’s maturity.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: New Halloween, Displacement, 8 Seconds
LEAST FAV TRACK: Benediction