Emotions. Raw, heartfelt emotions. That’s what you can expect from Touche Amore’s sophomore album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. The band takes all the expectations fans and critics hold and exceeds them twofold, retaining their trademark sound while improving on the delivery of their songs. Their debut record, To the Beat of a Dead Horse, got the attention of many within the scene, as fans heralded the band as the second coming of true hardcore music.
With their second full-length release, Touche Amore have made a strong statement of intent, utilizing their notoriously bare approach to recording, putting out an incredible follow-up to their very raw debut. Upon your first spin of PTSBBAM, you will immediately hear the difference production-wise, with the band having taken their notoriously bare approach to recording to the next level. The album was recorded with much-lauded underground producer Ed Rose, who took all of five days to get everything TA’s sophomore effort needed.
One thing you’ll notice when giving the record its first spins is that the musicianship has improved to no end, being complemented by the crisp recording and sounding less like a barrage of noise and more a rampant wave of unrelieved cacophony. The barrage of sound clocks in at just 20 minutes with a total of 13 tracks, as Touche Amore take their direct approach all the way through the album, leaving behind a distilled, fat-free end product.
Vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s screams have been refined as well, as he yells less throatily yet as cathartically as ever, his yelps of anguish delivering the emotion written into his lyrics perfectly. Guitarists Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt destroy on absolutely every track (particularly “Art Official,” “Crutch” and “Home Away From Here”), while Elliot Babin sets the pace (“Pathfinder” and “Uppers / Downers”). Tyler Kirby’s bass is often thrown a little too deep into the mix but when his parts do make their appearance, he shines just as brightly.
Now, on to another one of the album’s standout points, which I feel are Bolm’s lyrics. If there’s any lyricist in the hardcore scene who wears his heart on his sleeve, it’s TA’s frontman Bolm, whose lyrics aren’t the usual hardcore “beatdown” talk; instead he confronts his insecurities, questioning his life choices while letting loose his inner demons. It takes a brave man to churn out one’s thoughts for the entire world to hear, though thankfully, his lyrics manage to strike a nerve with most every line he delivers without ever coming across as cheesy.
Album opener “~,” arguably one of the best tracks on the album, kicks off with Bolm howling, “If actions speak louder than words / I’m the most deafening noise you’ve heard.” “Pathfinder” includes the memorable lines of “Late nights and all night drives are reminders why I’m alive” being roared over the heavy-hitting guitars. “Home Away From Here” delves further into Bolm’s mind, with the lines:
“A room in a house where my bed may stay/ But the feel of another’s sheets help keep my demons away/ It’s become clear that what keeps me here/ Is the sense of failure and other nightmares/ I’ve become jaded and I can’t escape it.”
Touche Amore manage to keep things fresh throughout, by trying out a plethora of different approaches to their music, most notably on the surprisingly different yet equally fulfilling “Condolences.” Fans will know that Touche Amore have evolved a great deal between their two full length releases. Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me will go down as one of 2011’s better hardcore albums.