Post hardcore is a fuzzy term. The boundaries are loose and ill-defined, including everything from angular math rock to shouty hardcore to emo that gets a little loud sometimes. I’ve seen dozens of discussions about where the line between post hardcore and emo is exactly, and they all fizzle out without a conclusion.
As blurry as that line is though, Philly quintet Amora rides it like a warhorse, combining post hardcore’s intricate guitar riffs with hardcore’s fury and emo’s anthemic melodicism.
Amora’s power is in their ability to gather elements from a variety of styles into a voice that sounds varied but never scattered. Vocals are shared between a number of members, utilizing fierce screams, muscular cleans, and soaring harmonies. “Shutter” in particular sees four different members trading lead vocal duties, but they are as united as some four-headed beast.
It goes far beyond uniting different vocal styles though. The instrumentation is just as chameleonic. Guitars wind around each other in serpentine countermelodies, soaring in post rock atmosphere one moment and crushing hardcore riffs the next. The drums use subtle shifts in the accents to instantly swing the mood. The double-time end section of “Stay Pony, Golden Boy” is an especially great example, with the bass line flirting with bluegrass a bit more brazenly than most post hardcore bassists would dare. Closer “In Translation” is the apex for me, utilizing their vocal interplay and musical acrobatics to create a shapeshifting opus.
Some of the credit surely belongs to producer Fred Mascherino, formerly of Taking Back Sunday, who knows a thing or two about this sort of stylistic alchemy. However, production doesn’t write the songs—it just shows them in the best light. Regardless of how much work Mascherino put in as a producer, Amora gave him one heck of a head start, offering up five songs that pay homage to bands like As Cities Burn, Glassjaw, and Thursday while also bringing plenty of their own freshness to the mix.
Cutting Teeth is out now through Heading East Records.