“You guys have been incredible,” pronounces Jeremy Bolm towards the end of Touché Amoré’s scorching set at the Brudenell Social Club. “This is definitely the best show we’ve ever played in Leeds – it’s definitely the best show we’ve played on this tour.”
There is a soft-spoken fragility to the frontman’s oration, quiet and restrained. It is distinctly at odds with the animalistic screams that emerge whenever he gets behind a microphone; the vocalist is both reserved Jekyll and unhinged Hyde, a bravura performance that elevates the post-hardcore outfit’s show to a higher level.
Stage Four, their latest offering, is comfortably the band’s most expansive and accessible record yet. Lyrically a concept album about Bolm’s struggle to cope with his mother’s passing, it is a more accomplished, polished musical beast than previous outings. It comes freighted with a stark pain that trades typical emo-cliché for a mature desolation; onstage, tracks such as the maudlin guilt of New Halloween and the anguished howl of Benediction see their distortion-buried grief buffed up into a rich slab of post-pop-punk, a genre-bending step forward for the group.
These aural idiosyncrasies all eventually conform back to a post-hardcore template though, where Touché Amoré truly hit their stride. Flowers and You, introduced with a surf-tinged guitar figure, segues into a blistering power-chord racket; The Great Repetition is a full-throated bellow of angst-ridden emo-punk. The few side-steps taken – the heady, heavy Rapture is as close as the band have come to a conventional arena rock song – are thrilling too; but it is the melodic, trenchant riffs of Just Exist and Pathfinder, over clattering drums and weighty bass-thumps, that ignite the raucous crowd who leap on and off the stage with a disarming frequency.
Many of the band’s tracks come in under a breezy hundred seconds each; as such, their 20-song set rattles by like rifle-fire, each song a bullet-sized pot-shot of firebrand energy. There’s a concise, controlled execution to their chaotic, ear-splitting sound; perhaps showcased no better than in the elegiac encore of Gravity, Metaphorically, which swells between gentle and furious dynamics on its way to a panoramic crescendo.
“Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts,” Bolm quietly but emphatically salutes as proceedings draw to a close. Sorrow comes in many forms, but rarely has it sounded as visceral and cathartic as this.