Lament feels like it’s been scratched in the upper corner of a high school desk. Touché Amoré have never really fit into any scene, too heavy for pop-punk, not heavy enough for hardcore. On this, their fifth album, the band revisits their roots as wiser, more mature individuals with a lot more to say then they did ten years ago. Lament feels like a band playing a garage show to 50,000 people.
Some of this is on mega-producer Ross Robinson. Ross is mostly known for his work on Korn and Limp Bizkit, but don’t forget this is the man behind Glassjaw, The Blood Brothers, and At The Drive-In. He has a perpetual finger on the pulse of today’s youth but remains true to his less-is-more ethos. For this reason, along with the band’s own choices, Lament lacks the synth and electronica that has taken over modern mainstream metal (looking at you, Bring Me The Horizon). Touché Amoré are a rock band, just guitar, bass, and drums with Jeremy Bolm’s voice tying things together.
As always, it’s Jeremy Bolm’s voice that stands out. It’s the only thing remaining that one could reasonably call hardcore. He screams without aggression, capturing the pain he wishes to the audience to feel, sounding more like he’s having an outburst then singing in a band. It’s a little jarring against guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Slowdive record, but it’s certainly engaging. But sometimes it’s too much. “A Broadcast” starts with an almost Pink Floyd-like jam of shimmery guitars before the atmosphere is upended by a hoarse yell. You don’t hear us at Metal Injection telling musicians to take it easy, but a few dynamics in the vocals could have changed this record for the better in many places. Touché Amoré have evolved musically in so many ways. One push from the vocals could place them in an entirely new category.
The biggest curveball is “Limelight”. The indie movie music video really says it all, since this is as perfect an indie movie soundtrack song as you are likely to get. There’s an old saying that it takes a lifetime to look effortless. Touché Amoré haven’t quite taken that long, but they’ve written an effortless youth anthem, which is ironic considering the song is about getting old. But as Jeremy shouts, “This uniform stays in fashion”. The moment of young rebellion might change, but punks and metalheads have always internalized it into their adulthood, kept the uniform on even as the initial shock value goes away. That’s what Touché Amoré sound like in 2020, a bunch of grown-up kids-at-heart.
But it’s hard to nail down what those kids want to be. Lament can still ride that spot between heavy and soft, sometimes taking the best of both worlds, other times not. Lyrics go up and down the angst scale, from “I’m a second-hand piano, incapable of tune,” to “Pin a ribbon on, to join the pain brigade”. But the music itself is inspiring enough to excuse these gaffes. For the most part, they carry Lament over its rough patches.
Touché Amoré are close. They’re very, very close to hitting the sweet spot and releasing the album of their lives. But Lament is a valiant effort and a step in the right direction.