Review Summary: A celestial journey of an album full of unrelenting heaviness and sheer beauty.
Space. The very mention of the word brings to mind images of a place enshrouded in mysterious and terrifying beauty. Many bands have tried to capture the essence of this area in their recordings, allowing lilting, peaceful recordings to represent their idea of space travel. However, what they fail to see are the aspects of loneliness and danger that can be found in the outer reaches of our universe. Rosetta incorporates all of these feelings into their music on their debut two disc album The Galilean Satellites
. Telling the story of a man who, to escape his earthly troubles, decides to travel to the icy landscape of Europa, Rosetta has put together a superb concept album that launches you into space right alongside the character they present.
Opener "Departe" is a stunning post metal epic, encapsulating perfectly the feeling of ascending to the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere and then finally breaking free into the chasm of space. Guitarist Matt Weed's use of gauzy, processed tones results in a floating sound not dissimilar from, say, Slowdive's "Souvlaki Space Station". This comparison quickly ends when Weed steps on his distortion pedal. Vocalist Mike Armine enters with an anguished yell that, along with some nimble drumwork, accelerates the track into heavier territory. From here Rosetta carry on in typical post metal fashion, building up to huge climaxes that dwindle into slower, more atmospheric sections. Dynamically, Rosetta resembles many post metal bands. However, the ways in which they create their dynamics are quite different. Rosetta is, for the most part, much airier than contemporaries such as Isis or Cult Of Luna. Their sound is rooted in ambient washes of guitar rather than sludgy slabs of heavy riffing. This can be seen in the serene "Itinerant", a song that, even in its harshest moments, doesn't feel heavy. While there are indeed moments of brooding heaviness, such as the swirling crescendoes of "Europa" or the speedy riffing on "Absent", Rosetta seems much more atmospherically inclined than their peers.
In fact, Rosetta's atmospheric proclivity is made quite obvious by their inclusion of a second disc comprised entirely of ambient tracks. While each disc can be listened to as a standalone album, the real trick is to play these discs simultaneously. The tracks sync up perfectly, forming an entirely new listening experience. This is the true format in which The Galilean Satellites
was meant to be listened to, as the celestial feeling put forth by Rosetta on disc 1 is greatly increased by the inclusion of the multiple layers of reverberating ambience found on disc 2.
However, by heading into this heavily atmospheric territory, Rosetta do at times stray into some self-indulgence. This results in segments here and there that seem to drag a bit, especially when the second disc is played by its self. These little bits and pieces don't drag down the overall experience of The Galilean Satellites
, but merely show that Rosetta has room to improve. By learning when and where to reign in their atmospheric leanings, Rosetta could possibly produce an album that surpasses the greatness found on their debut.
Not to be forgotten is the overarching concept that ties The Galilean Satellites
together. Vocalist Mike Armine's tale of a lone spaceman seeking solace in the realm of outer space is poetically tragic, a captivating bit of storytelling that enriches the entire Galilean Satellites
experience. The recurring themes of isolation and regret as well as the imagery of Europa's frozen surface gives each track a sense of place within the story line of The Galilean Satellites
, making for a record that plays like a voyage into the vast reaches of the galaxy and into the psyche of the doomed spaceman.
All in all, The Galilean Satellites
is an essential post metal release. Rosetta's spaced out concept album is one that should be noted for both its bold ambition and its high quality, especially when the fact that it's a debut is taken into consideration. The maturity shown on The Galilean Satellites
is indicative of good things to come, and one can only ponder as to how Rosetta plans to top this achievement. Recommended listening? Oh, yes. Yes indeed.