Review Summary: An enjoyable screamo release that may attract converts, also, is NOT metal.
If there’s one thing that grinds the gears of any metalhead, it’s when outsiders constantly refer to heavy metal as “screamo”. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. As soon as any musically oblivious dipstick hears a scream, screech, or growl, it immediately gets slapped with the screamo label, causing many a metalhead to grimace and boil with rage. If any heavy metal headbanger is looking for a way to set these people straight and establish a concrete difference between these two mostly unrelated genres, first play them Judas Priest, then play anything off Touche Amore’s latest album Is Survived By and that should do the trick.
Touche Amore specialize in a variation of screamo that is unusually sweet and not nearly as abrasive as some other practitioners of the screamo genre (see Loma Prieta.) The guitars are bright and jangly and not saturated in distortion while the screamed vocals are clear enough to make a lyric sheet unnecessary. The lightness and wispiness of the band’s sound renders their music absent of rigidness and allows for great detail. Touche Amore can, for example, add blast beats into a song like “Just Exist” and have them come off as a garnish to the overall piece rather than being the face of it. The drumming perfectly underlies the guitar work - which can actually get surprisingly complex during the arpeggiated lines - and every shift in every instrument rings clear as a bell in the album’s mix. In fact, everything is so clear on Is Survived By that repeated listens will be filled with little rewards and discoveries for anyone who listens carefully enough. Even the faster tracks on this album aren’t lacking in detail or cohesion; things remain busy but not rushed, making for an accessible listen. Lyrically, the band writes about the uncertainty of their current position. They are questioning how they will be remembered and what impact their music will possibly have on future generations. While it is a little strange for a small band in a small niche genre to be obsessed with this, it doesn’t take away from the quality of the writing on this album. Some of these lyrics resemble prose poetry and storytelling, which adds a layer of enjoyment to this album that goes beyond the music.
While unquestionably a straight-up screamo album, there is enough of a post-rock influence on Is Survived By worth mentioning. The dreamy, descending chord pattern on “To Write Content” is a perfect example, as is the guitar work on “Kerosene” which is reminiscent of post-rock-fusing Japanese screamo band Envy. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough outside influences on this album to keep it interesting throughout its duration. There isn’t quite enough variety amongst these twelve tracks to make it an exceptional listen, which makes the album wear a little thin in its final tracks. Besides that, Touche Amore has crafted what could be the most standout album of their career so far.
Touche Amore deliver with a very enjoyable set of screamo tunes that are sure to please anyone in the alternative or hardcore music scenes. While it does run out of ideas a little too quickly which weakens the album a tad, it is rife with interesting guitar work and passionate vocals that should satisfy those looking for modern post-hardcore. Given how accessible their music already is within the greater hardcore genre, and with a little more experimentation and melody, Touche could possibly be on their way to crossing over into a wider area of acceptance, or maybe even get close to the mainstream. Only time will tell, but until then, lets enjoy the screaming that will surely be cut out once the band gets famous. After all, this album is all about pondering how they will be remembered one day.