Review Summary: It's all about the atmosphere, man.
Everyone loves atmosphere. From the suffocating bleakness of the latest Ulcerate record to drawn-out string arrangements of a Stars of the Lid meandering, atmosphere can be found in both the heaviest and the most peaceful dredges of the world of music. Genres beginning with "post" rely on it even more than others, and one can't get much more atmospheric than Rosetta or Junius. With 3 full-lengths each, both are relatively new to the scene, but in that time, they've both managed to make reasonably large dents in the domain of atmosphere-centric microgenres whose validity people enjoy debating. For one who loves meandering epics soaked in more reverb and delay than a cold, refreshing, and delicious Tres Leches cake is in sweetened condensed milk, what could be a more welcome thing than a split by both bands?
On the first side of the record, Junius, the lesser-known of the two contributing bands, debut a track oh-so-enticingly entitled A Day Dark With Night
. The name's lack of creativity aside, Junius are absolutely in top form here, taking their droning, vocal-driven post-rock delivery and expanding it into an 8-minute epic, longer than most tracks they've crafted in the past. With powerful riffs, incredibly dreamy and very unique vocals, and, of course, buckets of glorious reverb, they weave an intricate soundscape of multiple textures to a level of success striven for by so many similar acts. Technical proficiency isn't the name of the game here: it's all about honing all 8 of those magnificent atmosphere-drenched minutes into a song that's intelligent enough to hold the interest of the connoisseur, but catchy and emotional enough as not to turn away the casual listener.
Let's be completely honest with ourselves, though: it is highly probable that you sought out this split not for Junius, but for Rosetta, everyone's favorite delay addicts. They contribute a 9.5-minute slab of their signature hardcore-driven post-metal (no matter how much Armine might protest, his band's categorization in this silly microgenre is more or less unavoidable) that acts as a hybrid of the lengthy Cult of NeurIsis worship displayed on Wake/Lift
with the more energetic and concise dynamics of A Determinism of Morality
. An avid Rosetta fan may experience a sense of dejá-vu at the hands of a very familiar chord progression that carries through the entire song (most prominently utlized on the title track of Determinism
), but Rosetta progress substantially in other areas. Mike Armine's vocals are as intense and heartfelt as they have ever been, and Bruce McMurtrie Jr, as usual, utterly dominates the kit, again proving himself to be one of the scene's most underrated drummers. The largest improvement, however, lies in the string section. Rosetta progressed in riff-writing ability on Determinism
more than they ever had in the past, but TMA-3
takes it to a whole new level. They utilize the obligatory ambient sections, but these are permeated by immensely catchy riffs. The last quarter of the song consists of an almost danceable tapping guitar line and even ends with odd-meter Meshuggah-esque chugging (think Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin
, except better).
The only real issue on this split is the refusal of both bands to make significant progressions in their sound, but when it comes down to it, this is not actually a problem. It depends on who you ask, but to the average Rosetta or Junius fan, neither of the bands' sounds is broke, nor do they need fixing. This split will not covert the naysayers, not will it revolutionize the field of reverb and delay-obsessed indulgences, but for what it is, no one could have asked for anything better than this. So I strongly encourage you to do yourself a favor. Pick up this excellent split, find a quiet place (herbal recreational items are optional), and immerse yourself in some of the most relaxing "heavy" music to ever be crafted by bearded hipsters.