Review Summary: A passionless and monotonously-structured affair, The Anaesthete is a largely feeble imitation of past successes.Rosetta
's fourth full-length is a clear mark of the dreaded musical holding pattern: a disease that affects exceptionally talented bands just as much as it does subpar groups. It adheres to the same formula that their previous two albums, A Determinism of Morality
especially, perfected: a mix of devastating sludge sections and delay-laden post-rock noodling, with vocalist Mike Armine's impeccably passionate shouts occupying a space somewhere between the background and the foreground of the music. This is all accentuated by an absolutely stellar performance from drummer Bruce McMurtrie Jr - in fact, his incredibly dynamic work behind the kit is one of The Anaesthete
's greatest strengths. Really, everything seems like it should work like it has in the past, so why is the music on The Anaesthete
so uncharacteristically forgettable"
We need to look no farther than the album's opening track, 'Ryu/Tradition', for an answer. Beginning with those aforementioned delayed-to-hell cleans, it gradually builds into a massive climax that would easily stand alongside anything from their previous albums if it weren't for what follows. The funny thing is that this subsequent passage is not some kind of musical abomination, rather, it is a repeat of the exact same structure in the same song, with the first climax giving way to a clean section and this second clean section building into another maelstrom of power chords and hoarse shouts. On its own it might be a perfectly acceptable Rosetta
track, but when one considers that nearly every single one of the album's other eight tracks follow the same formula - take a four note progression or two and stretch them out over increasingly predictable peaks and valleys - the album as a whole fails in a way that a track taken on its own does not. Rosetta
occasionally ventures into hitherto uncharted territory - such as the skull-crushing, hardcore-infused 'Myo/The Miraculous', the earth-shattering instrumental 'Ku/Emptiness', or the gorgeous 'Hodoku/Compassion' (this song marks only their third use of clean vocals) - and it is in these brief moments of deviation that The Anaesthete
shines. However, so much of the album is built from an inexcusably bare-bones, watered-down structure, that it reads more as a feeble imitation than a worthy continuation of its predecessors. These brief moments of creativity are buried under the weight of the rest of the album's structural monotony.
A strict adherence to formula is one thing: however, the most glaring weakness of The Anaesthete
lies not in its mechanics, but in its lack of the emotional staying power that earned their previous work much praise. Wake/Lift
's 'Red in Tooth and Claw' was such a memorable track not because of its structure - Rosetta
did not deviate significantly from the standard post-metal structure until their third album - but because of how much of an emotional chord its progressions struck in a listener. Every peaceful build, thundering climax, distant shout, and pummeling riff in this and songs like it proclaimed the passion that its creators poured into it, and this fervor is inexplicably lacking in The Anaesthete
. Here, they don't sound passionate - rather, they sound bored. It's as if it was created out of obligation rather than inspiration; an amalgamation of the strengths of Rosetta
's previous work without the beautiful fury and fervor that previously marked them as worthy peers of such legendary acts as Neurosis
, and Cult of Luna
. It is abundantly clear here, on this aesthetically appealing but emotionally lacking effort, that Rosetta
are tired of this formula. They always have been vehemently against labels like "post-metal", and with their previous couple albums they successfully moved themselves some distance from it by keeping a large amount of their emotional power intact while playing with song structures in unexpected ways. However, with The Anaesthete
they seem to have done the opposite. Maybe this was just a bump in the road. Maybe their next effort will be a logical continuation of their sound that this should have been, imbibing genre-defying structures with emotional bombast rather than repetitive progressions with passionless sterility. Given the undeniable brilliance that Rosetta
have displayed in the past, one has reason to be optimistic. Until then we're stuck with a passionless imitation of their past successes; an incredibly disappointing album that highlights the weaknesses of their best work and retains few of its strengths.