Some beauty gently caresses you with tender love and care in the darkest of moments. Think of Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell. Soothingly plucked guitars, expansive soundscapes and pensive mediations on death walk the listener through a painful, yet delicate series of Stevens’ memories. Another form of beauty is a little less subtle, opting instead for an over-the-top delivery that highlights the bruises, cuts and devastation that come with loving something and watching it pass. The love and care is in there, but it comes via an intense barrage of intense emotionality. That is the brand of beautiful that Touché Amoré deals in on Stage Four.

Named both in recognition of this being the band’s fourth studio album and for the passing of lead singer Jeremy Bolm’s mother from cancer in 2014, Stage Four is a towering record. Few albums this year, if any, have felt more capable of telling such vivid, striking stories with such clarity and palpable emotion. Naturally, Bolm’s lyricism does much of the heavy lifting. His piercing self-assessments and heartbreaking depictions of self-destruction are nothing short of extraordinary. On ‘Rapture,’ he subtly shifts into a new echelon of devastation by repeating, “Something you love is gone,” before changing the lyric ever so slightly to “someone you love is gone.” On ‘Palm Dreams,’ he paints a picture of himself pouring over his mother’s belongings: “It felt like many years/ Taking apart our home/ I dug through 40 years/ All alone/ On my own.”

Album opener ‘Flowers And You’ does not even spare the listener, as Bolm works through his pre-loss pains, as he saw his mother fading away toward an inevitable fate: “I apologize for the grief/ When you’d refuse to eat/ I just didn’t know what to say/ While watching you wither away.” But just because Bolm’s crushing vignettes often take center stage does not mean that the contribution of his bandmates is any less significant. The roaring guitars of Nick Steinhart and Clayton Stevens, the lithe bass of Tyler Kirby and the punchy drums of Elliot Babin all wrap and mesh themselves around Bolm’s words beautifully. In fact, it is the towering arrangements here that make Stage Four an uplifting story rather than a heartbreaking one.

The album closes on ‘Skyscraper,’ a song that utilizes 27 words to, at its core, convey four words in particular: “It will be okay.” Bolm looks down from the top of a New York high-rise (the Empire State Building presumably, based on the reference to 102 stories) and sees his mother living “under the lights.” It is almost the most beautiful way to end the record. I write “almost” because what actually closes the album is a voicemail from Bolm’s mother. In a sweet and tender voice, she tells her son that she will be out dropping off prescription and she may not be home when he gets there. She signs off with a sing-song, “Bye, bye.”

The heartsick sentiment of this album will leave most listeners with a pang in their chest. Bolm’s pain is so beautifully expressed that it can be hard not to buy in entirely. The “hardcore Carrie & Lowell” description is becoming fairly standard for Stage Four, but it still serves to highlight just how moving this record is. It will make you want to mosh, it will make you want to cry. I can’t think of a better sell for Stage Four.