Published Sep 16, 2016This week, Touché Amoré release Stage Four, an ambitious and heartbreaking fourth album for the California post-hardcore outfit. This Epitaph debut comes three years after their last effort, Is Survived By, and sees them evolving their sound while taking the emotional intensity to a new level. The record is dedicated to the memory of singer Jeremy Bolm's mother, who passed away at age 69 after a battle with cancer in 2014.
"There were so many different aspects with going through something like this," Bolm tells Exclaim! "So many different emotions, so many different things you think about."
On "Palm Dreams," the first song the band released from the new album, he wonders aloud what inspired his mother to leave Nebraska and move to California in the '70s. "What was it that brought you west? / I assume but can only guess," he rasps. Bolm says it's a teaching moment for anyone with questions only one person can answer.
"If there's anything that you need to ask your parents that you've never known, ask them before it's too late," the 33-year-old says. "Because you'll end up with these questions and you'll never have the answers."
Despite its subject, Stage Four features Touché Amoré's brightest instrumentation to date. "Skyscraper" is one of several new songs that mark a departure for the band, as their sound evolves into one that's still plenty loud, fast and raw, but also melodic and subdued. Bolm admits it may be an adjustment for fans who have grown accustomed to the group's all-out sonic assault on past albums.
"It's not like we've taken a complete 180, though," he says. "There's never been a conversation like, 'We need to aim in this direction.' It just continues to evolve with our musical tastes, and what we're listening to at the time."
The band's last album, 2013's Is Survived By, dealt heavily with the idea of mortality, and the way people hope to be remembered. Given the circumstances that unfolded since then, Bolm says he now takes life's fragility more seriously.
"It made me look at life as a little shorter," he says. "Whatever I'm trying to do with my life, I should probably start focusing on it a little stronger. Before, I was looking at the grand scheme of things I'd like to accomplish in my life. Now, realizing how early you can pass on, I want to work on them sooner rather than later."
Check out another Stage Four track, "Rapture," below.