Review Summary: Guess which band I'm not going to mention.
Writing what might be one of the most ambitious debut albums in recent memory, Rosetta have certainly taken their name to new heights. With each release, Rosetta garner critical acclaim for their unique take on a seemingly stale spectrum of music. Dubbed as a "space-metal" band, this quartet still holds remnants of their roots in Philadelphia's hardcore- dominated scene. Not hardcore by any convention, Rosetta's music combines the punishing heaviness, elongated structures and bouts of ambient experimental passages found in other similar metal acts with an obvious hardcore aggression and influence. Rosetta's first release, The Galilean Satellites
, is considered by many, myself included, a nearly perfect piece of atmospheric genius. The two hour long album is split between two discs, the first of which is Rosetta in their gruelingly heavy glory and the other exclusively displays dream-like ambience. What makes The Galilean Satellites
a true work of art is the optional synchronization that accompanies the album. With three different and equally interesting lights that anyone can experience the album in, it proves difficult to think of the album as stale.
Where can a band as ambitious and talented as Rosetta take their music after such a intelligently massive release? Continuing with the same experimental elements that are found on both The Galilean Satellites
and Project Mercury
, a split record with friends and fellow Philadelphians Balboa, Rosetta have made their trade as exhilarating as ever. Their most concise release to date, Wake/Lift
pushes the boundaries set by their debut and makes their formula all the more enjoyable.
Stating the obvious aspect of Wake/Lift
; this record is ***ing dense. When the band decides to take on their heavier side, the amount of sound that the instruments and vocals produce can feel overwhelming at times. The guitarist, Matthew Weed, utilizes his love of thick, fuzzy distortions in addition to towering uses of reverb allow him to create immense atmospheres that drown out audiences. Placed in the back of the mix, the vocalist shares the same sense of atmosphere with distant and indecipherable shouts. With a truly unique vocal style, Mike Armine's work is as painful as it is powerful. Rosetta always layers their music to the utmost and this is one characteristic that I hold in high regard. Every section of Wake/Lift
, whether it be electronic bleeps, strange noises, samples or a second guitar placed underneath the chaos, contains multiple layers. Take the first movement of "Lift" for example. A genuinely gorgeous guitar introduction, shrouded with delay, erupts into the relentless rhythms that Rosetta are known for. After the initial pummeling, the band breaks down into a noise passage that simply sounds otherworldly. These noises overlap into the second movement of "Lift", a track entirely comprised of electronics. The profound use of electronics on Wake/Lift
accentuates the overall replay value of the record.
At nearly fifteen minutes long, "Temet Nosce" contains the slowest structure progression of any track on the album. With that said, the track also happens to be one of of my favorites from Wake/Lift
though finding a weak track on here would be insanely difficult. The relaxing beauty of "Temet Nosce" changes the pace of the album and really makes the listener take notice. Again, the guitarist's masterful playing and layering feels damn near angelic by the end. With this track, Rosetta proves that their dynamic sense never falls into the ugly trap of sounding generic and predictable.
One other aspect of Wake/Lift
I find particularly compelling when compared to other like-minded bands is the attitude of the rhythm section. Where some albums lose their momentum during long rants of nothingness, Rosetta develops an energetic and ,dare I say it, catchy rhythm to latch onto. These bass and drum breaks find themselves littered throughout the album and always deliver when everything else is minimal. "Red in Tooth and Claw" presents this perfectly. After the trampling of a distorted chord progression and a triumphant crescendo, the articulate rhythms of the bassist, David Grossman, and the drummer, Bruce McMurtie, add a certain accessibility to a song of this nature that I find intriguing.
, Rosetta has once again risen to the top of their game and released a stunningly fresh album. Much more credit is due to the fact that they have not repeated themselves and written something that feels separate from past endeavors into this territory. Successfully crafting an album that never feels drawn out for the sake of length, Rosetta's individual sound and compositional skills have continued to develop and rival that of their peers. The guitar work displays many distinct moods and styles throughout Wake/Lift
and the vocals sound petrifying. A brilliant rhythm section ties together the various crescendos and in turn, they never feel scattered. Wake/Lift
condenses every element of The Galilean Satellites
and advances them. Rosetta, I applaud you.