Rolo Tomassi
Where Myth Becomes Memory


4.2
excellent

Review

by don't ask me, I don't know any hallways STAFF
February 3rd, 2022 | 938 replies


Release Date: 02/04/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Balancing the dark [patch notes]

Having a breakthrough must be nice. Following one up, I imagine, must be like sucking inspiration out of Satan’s toenails. No retreads, no pandering, no diminishing returns, and, above all, no feints at the common tastes of your many-tongued new audience: come out of all that with something worthwhile, and the future is yours. Maybe. So yes, I was excited and more than a little anxious to see how Rolo Tomassi would handle their 2018 opus Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It blowing them up from a cult treasure to the cross-party darlings of the international heavyverse. That record turned their versatile brand of mathcore to maximalist expressions of shiny, shiny beauty, with songwriting so grandiose it frequently bordered on straight post-rock. It was brilliant in many respects, but its glittery epics strayed far enough towards overt corniness to raise questions over what heaps of critical acclaim would incentivise from the band’s future direction. Time Will Die…’s palpably sincere inspirations may shrug off these kinds of misgivings but they don’t invite excessive reheating ...and yet neither are their dividends to be thrown out. What to do?

What you do best! Where Myth Meets Memory is the slickest, most confident tracklist Rolo Tomassi have ever laid down, and the only real candidate for their hitherto non-existent single-defining-work. It’s been described as the finale of an accidental trilogy started by 2015’s Grievances and Time Will Die…, but the band’s writing and sequencing play into their core strengths with such self-awareness that we can practically call them masters of their own fate at this point. This record pools everything they’ve achieved since 2012’s Astraea into the most balanced showcase of their talents thus far - there are no accidental trilogies in fate. Where each of the first five Rolo Tomassi records was a fresh revelation, Where Myth Meets Memory confirms everything we already knew about them: that there’s enough depth to their contrasts of light and dark for neither side to eschew the other; that they handle sentimental cuts respectably well on their own (“Closer”), but that these land far better when they prelude whiplash and agitation (“Drip”); that their heavier numbers benefit from erratic mathcore (“To Resist Forgetting”) and not at all from the same conveyor belt djent-lite that make such contemporaries as Spiritbox a tepid drag (“Cloaked”); that their songwriting fares just as well committing to linear developments as it does pulling a violent change of pace, and that there is always, always firm emotional bedrock under their feet.

If there’s one area that’s been tightened up, it’s the focus the band apply to their juxtaposition of soothing light and harrowing darkness on the level of individual songs. Where Time Will Die… afforded each track a clear tendency one way or the other, Where Myth Becomes Memory splits the atom so deftly that its predecessor seems a little conservative by comparison. Take the early highlight “Mutual Ruin”, which kicks off with hornet-like riffage only to pivot midway, stripping out guitars entirely and spotlighting vocalist Eva Korman’s cleans over James Spence’s soothing piano. Veteran fans will anticipate an intense climax lurking ahead, but the song’s earlier tension diffuses into something sparser, mournful and no less satisfying, leaving it to the rest of the album to restore momentum. This isn’t entirely new: Astraea, for instance, was full of similar pivots, but these suffered from patchy songwriting, a clear victor emerging from whichever song’s mismatched halves. Not so here: each half of “Mutual Ruin” highlights the strength of the other, two polarised takes on what turns out to be a unified composition. Listen again and you’ll hear Spence’s same chords underpinning the song at its most frantic; as far as he’s concerned, the piece hardly changes from start to finish. With all manner of experiments behind them, the band finally content themselves that the simplest of changes can be the farthest-reaching. They break things down even further on “Labyrinthine”, the album’s ugliest slugger, with a stunning melodic bridge that slinks in and out so furtively you’ll question having heard it at all the first time around. Rolo Tomassi know their way round a shift of gears micro or macro, and Where Myth Meets Memory is their most seamless work on both levels.

All that structural malleability doesn’t hold the band back from taking certain cuts to extremes. Album highlight “Prescience” proves their most withering outing since Grievances, while the opener “Almost Always” reprises all Time Will Die…’s most radiant qualities into something still more glittery, half a shrewd welcome-back, half mirage-like bliss preluding a turbulent journey. Hold onto that image: Where Myth Becomes Memory is every inch a battleground between light and dark, and its brightest tracks anchor the tracklist. “Almost Always” and “The End of Eternity” respectively open and close the album at its most uplifting, suggesting a cycle of tone that then becomes a figure-of-eight (or an infinity sign, if you will) with the addition of “Closer”’s midway lacuna. These three tracks ground the frenetic push-and-pull of everything in between: it’s rare for either darkness or light to define any track in its entirety, but their conflict has a darkness of its own. Though nowhere near as morbid as Grievances, the record as a whole is accordingly gritty, an increasingly desperate cycle of whatever soft/heavy, positive/negative tension/tranquility polarities you can pin on it. When the band eventually let it all fall apart, there’s a sense that they can wind it no tighter.

Sound like an ordeal? Let the album’s pacing take care of that; it stretches enough skin over its bones for its violence to have something to scratch against, but sticks so fast to succinct developments that this never becomes exhausting. Rolo Tomassi thrive in this equilibrium. They may flip their mood at the drop of a hat, but they never sound any less than perfectly themselves – and that’s exactly where they should be. Where Myth Becomes Memory doesn’t see them self-stylise as a great band with grand gestures; they had little to reassert in this regard. No, if there’s one thing this record asserts in a voice very much its own, it’s that they’re a band who can cope with greatness. You decide which is the rarer treasure.




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user ratings (396)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2022


48790 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

thank you jesp/phero for crash testing this, thank you porc for the one sentence (RIP) you crashed, thank you spaceman for the summary I stole

this is better than TWD but not quite on par with Grievances. anyone with post-rock in their pie who disagrees with either of these facts please show yourself out

excitement etc.

Pikazilla
February 3rd 2022


23151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice, thank you for rating this higher than TWD, very based, much love

Demon of the Fall
February 3rd 2022


24935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's here! Will read.

I am excite.



I love how Rhododendron is in the rec by reviewer sec

Digging: Nujabes - Luv(sic) Hexalogy

Mort.
February 3rd 2022


18773 Comments


i once ordered the first 3 rolo tomassi cds from their website and they never arrived so i emailed them and james was just like no worries and sent them again


good band basically nice people

Digging: Chariots - Daybreak

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2022


11437 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

> anyone with post-rock in their pie who disagrees with either of these facts please show yourself out



😢

Pikazilla
February 3rd 2022


23151 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"but its glittery epics strayed far enough towards overt corniness"



very much on point

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2022


4505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

best hardcore band since chunk no captain chunk

Demon of the Fall
February 3rd 2022


24935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'anyone with post-rock in their pie who disagrees with either of these facts please show yourself out'



...'post-rock 11%'



Oh, well this is awkward.

Uzumaki
February 3rd 2022


3882 Comments


Heady take, comparing these neophytes with the gods that are Chunk, No Captain Chunk.

This is the most positive I’ve read from a Johnny review in a long time, pos.

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2022


11437 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

we in this together Demon 💖



fantastic review boyo, I am beyond hyped and ready to be proven wrong

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2022


28253 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

NICE.

Digging: Autumn's Grey Solace - Within the Depths of a Darkened Forest

Mort.
February 3rd 2022


18773 Comments


guys ive had a rolo tomassi sweatshirt for years, way before you all got into this band so im actually the coolest???

Demon of the Fall
February 3rd 2022


24935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'Where Time Will Die… afforded each track a clear tendency one way or the other, Where Myth Becomes Memory splits the atom so deftly that its predecessor seems a little conservative by comparison.'



hype intensifies, oh boy!

Slex
February 3rd 2022


13998 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

About to throw this mf on let's go bois

Digging: Bartees Strange - Farm To Table

Mort.
February 3rd 2022


18773 Comments


also does someone want to update their band bio cos its woefully out of date at the moment

MonumentsOfParalysis
February 3rd 2022


535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I enjoyed reading this review quite a bit, I admire your diction and the passion for the band that seeps into your writing.

Digging: Artificial Brain - Artificial Brain

Demon of the Fall
February 3rd 2022


24935 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

'guys ive had a rolo tomassi sweatshirt for years, way before you all got into this band so im actually the coolest???'... 'also does someone want to update their band bio cos its woefully out of date at the moment'



lol, you weren't joking...



that was written before even I got into them ;-)

Mort.
February 3rd 2022


18773 Comments


theres also probably better similar bands to list, the horse the band comparison is a bit outdated by this point for example.



JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2022


48790 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

mortdaddy was my recommended section okay please don't shade me

"most positive I’ve read from a Johnny review in a long time"

read my reviews for good albums!! they're out there and sometimes recent i promise!

Mort.
February 3rd 2022


18773 Comments


johnny is one of my top 3 users so he can do and say as he likes as long as its not anti-bingo gazingo or anti mort





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