Album Review
Touché Amoré - Is Survived By Album Cover

Touché Amoré - Is Survived By

Reviewed by
Touché AmoréIs Survived By
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Record Label: Deathwish
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Repeating history (or success) isn’t the hard part; it’s maintaining that success consistently that proves most challenging for many bands. And maintaining that consistency was one of, if not the main focus for Touché Amoré when the band recorded their third full-length earlier this year. The Los Angeles hardcore unit has been steadily gaining a dedicated fanbase for the past five or so years, putting out much-adored albums like 2011’s Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me (the band’s first Deathwish release and follow-up to its debut …To The Beat Of A Dead Horse), its less-than-two-minutes hardcore blasts enrapturing ears everywhere. So it’d be easy for the quintet to reshit history and continue to churn out numbers like that.

But either a realization of the band’s importance in the hardcore scene or just wanting to improve as musicians (or a combination of both) led Touché Amoré to bigger goals and higher standards – the first instance being “Gravity, Metaphorically.” The four-minute song was released in January on a split with Pianos Become The Teeth and was a turning point for the band, as it was the beginning of the band expanding its sound and exploring different areas within its songwriting. The buzz surrounding the band the past few years is now a deafening roar, as Is Survived By places Touché Amoré amongst the influential elite.

“Just Exist” sets the tone thematically for Is Survived By, as vocalist Jeremy Bolm waxes poetic on legacy and mortality over the frenetic pace of Elliot Babin’s drum work while Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens' dissonant guitar work soars through the middle. "To Write Content" sounds like a standard TA song turns into so much more at the song’s midpoint as Babin’s drums clash against Tyler Kirby’s buoyant bass line. Rather than ending there, the band launches into a smooth melodic bridge were Bolm tackles his anxiety about writing LP3, telling a fellow musician (and quite possibly himself) the risks of opening yourself up (“So, expose all your secrets/To move units, display your weakness/You might spend some years alone/For the price of forgetting your home/Expose what hurts you the worst/The exchange deals a handsome return/Are you in?”). It’s the first poignant moment on Is Survived By, one that hasn’t left this reviewer’s memory since late July.

Not many records released this year are as thorough and thought out as Is Survived By. This isn’t your by-the-numbers hardcore record, as TA incorporates a lot of eclectic movements and subtleties throughout the album’s twelve tracks, taking inspiration from some of the members favorite post-rock/emo/whatever bands of the late 90s (think pg.99, Sunny Day Real Estate, and the like – it’s not surprising TA tapped Brad Wood to produce the record). The desolate “Praise/Love” is a haunting intro (“A glutton for love/A glutton for praise”) that immediate spikes into the energetic “Anyone/Anything.” Bolm screams, “I don’t owe anyone/I don’t owe anything/so stop expecting everything from me” over a crisp, emotive riff dripping in melody, intricately woven within the song’s layers.

There are many moments like that littered amongst Is Survived By: the dynamic “DNA” balances hardcore trash with indie-rock sensibilities while the chaotic “Blue Angels” throws another curveball at long time fans as Bolm duets with Julia Blake (vocalist for Los Angeles band Vow). The slow-burn confessional of “Harbor” is a lyrical highlight for the vocalist, as he exclaims, “Without you I'm not pure/And without you I'm not clean/But if I'm going down with you/Then you're going down with me” over the crushing, all-encompassing bridge.

Every piece and movement is accounted for and has purpose, especially Is Survived By’s final third, elevating Touché Amoré above your modern, typical hardcore band. The colossal build of “Non Fiction” is reminiscent of The Appleseed Cast and the finest example of Touché Amoré’s maturation as musicians. Steinhardt and Stevens needling guitar riffs pierce through the song’s sludginess. But everything comes to a head on the final track – a three-and-a-half minute rallying cry that shares the same name as the album. It’s a final gasp from Bolm to let everyone know that all of this is more than just the band and himself (This is survived by a love/This is survived by a cause/That you aren’t the only who remembers what it was). It’s one more chance for Bolm to hang his insecurities out to dry (“It’s a song of thanks sung by a hack”), while Babin and Kirby unleash one last rhythmic fury against Steinhardt and Stevens’ dueling guitars – an accumulation of powerful yet different forces concluding one of 2013’s essential albums in dizzying fashion.

The lyrical journey is just as exhilarating. It feels as if Bolm is going through a sort of transformation throughout Is Survived By, recognizing the importance of ones life and taking control of it. He’s not perfect, but he doesn’t shy away from any of that, which is incredibly refreshing. Whether he’s battling his anxiety on the ever-building “Social Caterpillar” or overcoming it on the euphoric “Steps” (which features delicious call-and-return vocals between Bolm and Balance and Composure’s Jon Simmons), you will never accuse Bolm of dishonest lyrics. Everything is personal, psychological, and physical, with the music complimenting the words perfectly. Is Survived By isn’t a concept album by nature, but you’d be foolish to not realize the personal growth displayed from “Just Exist” to the closing title track. It’s ultimately a triumph over apathy.

Seeing what kind of band Touché Amoré has grown into – from the self-titled 7” demo to Is Survived By – is one of the biggest pleasures a music critic, and ultimately a music fan, can experience. A release like this is the reason why so many of us fell in love with music in the first place – Is Survived By is a genuine, life-affirming piece of art that’ll move even the blackest of souls. Touché Amoré wrote the type of record many bands strive to make but only a few accomplish. Who wouldn’t want to be survived by that?

Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 96
04:30 AM on 09/24/13
Geology Rocks!
Why are you so afraid?
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Geology Rocks!'s Avatar
Scores too low
04:39 AM on 09/24/13
Boycott Pure Noise Records
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FrostedBlakes1's Avatar
Here's to hoping this thread stays relativley drama free.

Great review as always, cant wait to pick this up.
04:55 AM on 09/24/13
I know you're strong.
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Fourchordwonder's Avatar
Solid review, but the third paragraph confused me. It starts off with a sentence about "Just Exist," but everything else is about "To Write Content." It's like you left out a transition or something. Not really a big deal.
05:24 AM on 09/24/13
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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Drew Beringer's Avatar
Solid review, but the third paragraph confused me. It starts off with a sentence about "Just Exist," but everything else is about "To Write Content." It's like you left out a transition or something. Not really a big deal.
thanks for catching that - I was hacking and cutting and pasting a lot of different thoughts all over the place and the "what" was a placeholder for the actual song title. haha
05:55 AM on 09/24/13
Things are the same.
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JeffyDomer's Avatar
Really 9.8? This is definitely a 9.92
06:06 AM on 09/24/13
these pretzels are makin me thirst
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tottivillarossi's Avatar
06:45 AM on 09/24/13
Regular Member
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markyconnolly's Avatar
great review
06:52 AM on 09/24/13
No Closer To Heaven
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Jaytothesyg's Avatar
Great review. Really love this album, gets better with each listen
07:15 AM on 09/24/13
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jordalsh's Avatar
Who wouldn’t want to be survived by that?

nice. I'll have to check this out.
07:31 AM on 09/24/13
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theherox's Avatar
07:36 AM on 09/24/13
Blake Solomon
every outcome's such a comedown
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Blake Solomon's Avatar
Really 9.8? This is definitely a 9.92
came in here to say this.
07:37 AM on 09/24/13
Registered User
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hisnextvictim's Avatar
Fantastic review to go with a fantastic album. Can't wait to get deeper into it.
07:46 AM on 09/24/13
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baton's Avatar
I'm surely survived by that ;p good review man! ..and the record is priceless, the best material from TA so far.
07:51 AM on 09/24/13
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No Avatar Selected
I really don't get this band.
The instruments are kinda cool I guess but it seriously sounds like they took some random dude off the street to do vocals.

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