UG Team, on august 19, 2013 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Post-metal, atmospheric sludge, call it what you like; the style made famous by Neurosis from the ashes of hardcore punk has traditionally been assigned high cultural capital. Records cost good money and audiences watch live shows in dead silence. With this in mind, Philadelphia's Rosetta are brave to cut themselves loose of record labels and release new album "The Anaesthete" online on a pay-what-you-like basis. Bandcamp and Soundcloud aren't fixtures of high culture yet. Formed in 2003, the band themselves always seemed to follow at the heels of the genre's trailblazers with dustpan and brush, sweeping up the leftovers and drafting them into their own sketches. They've had some high points their debut "The Galilean Satellites" was enthralling at its best, while 2007's "Wake/Lift" was impressively professional for an album fed on the rawest sounds and emotion but theyve never done much to demand the limelight.
"The Anaesthete" is plainly the work of a band who know their style. The shallow snare, choppy distortion and melancholy dissonance are unmoving features of their sound. Besides an update in production values, which gives the heavy moments a welcome punch, not an awful lot has changed in the three years since their last full-length. "Ryu/Tradition" is a typical ten-minute excursion of light and shade, dousing a simple motif in delay and reverb before building to a destructive climax. This adventurousness feels rather prescribed by genre convention. "Oku/The Secrets," on the other hand, is highly unstable, with J. Matthew Weed's guitar crackling with feedback every time he lifts his fingers from the fretboard.
Towards the middle of the album "Hodoku/Compassion" provides a highlight, with clean vocals and jazzy percussion offering respite from the corrosive distortion. Despite being close to an hour in length the album does not use this change as a springboard for narrative evolution; bar "Ku/Emptiness," which closes the bulk of proceedings in dramatic and boisterously heavy fashion, there is little to tell between the beginning, middle and end of the disc in terms of mood. // 6
Lyrics: Vocalist Michael Armine takes two steps forward in the mix to become a frontman on this album. His hoarse scream is a useful textural tool and has been deployed in that way since the band's debut, but here he is the mouthpiece for emotions stirred by the other instruments. Taking on this role typically requires a range of expressive options, however Armine is confined to a single sort of yelp, one which works well at certain moments but becomes monotonous over an hour of music. // 5
Overall Impression: You may remember "The Galilean Satellites" came as a pair of LPs designed to be played simultaneously. It was good, but accessible to approximately no one in this form. Who has two record players? "The Anaesthete" has a completely different kind of availability problem, in that it's free to everyone but sadly rather dull. Something's not quite right when an album in this style does more to sedate than illuminate, and almost any description one can muster (combining heavy riffs with delicate clean passages!) feels tired and clichd. For scholars of the ISIS school of slow-burning, incandescent sludge, this album is unlikely to add anything to their record collection that wasn't already there five or ten years ago. It's above average, but not by much.
mada1990, on august 26, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Rosetta have always had an interesting sound to them and from their first album, really had a mastering of the use of delays and reverbs. Spacey atmospheres and entrancing musical compositions with the occasional post-hardcore/post-metal sludge fest have really defined what Rosetta stands for (and sorry Rosetta, but you will always be labeled as "post-metal" no matter how much you hate it). The problem with being labled anything "post" is that once you ARE "post" anything, you sorta become doomed into forever making the same song with the same textures over and over again, which unfortunately, has been the case for bands like Rosetta. That's not to say that one song isn't REALLY awesome, but it can get tedious and make you wanting something else after awhile.
For the most part, this album in particularly can easily be compared to their previous album (and all the other previous albums AND all other post-metal/post-rock albums in existence), that however, doesn't mean it's not an enjoyable experience. Certain aspects of this genre work when combined with other elements (Godspeed You! Black Emperor have classical instrumentalization and ISIS have really bludgeoning metal riffs), but Rosetta seem to stick to the very spaced out atmospheric ambient sounds that have come to define them, meaning if you heard previous Rosetta albums, you won't be surprised here. That being said, it doesn't mean Rosetta didn't TRY with this album. Tracks 3, 4, and 6 in particular, are quite heavy to the point where I would even argue EXTREMELY heavy, especially for Rosetta. Those three tracks have far less delay and looping, cosmic sounds than what we can normally expect from these guys. Track 6 has some real booming and powerful heavy riffs with some intense drumming and is probably one of the shortest tracks in Rosetta's history. Track 3 displays, one of the coolest basslines I've heard this year within the outro of the song, where the guitar weaves in and out of the distorted bass, with very little distortion even used, but more amp push in volume adding an awesome effect. // 7
Lyrics: There's absolutely no surprises here. Armine's vocals have always been pretty typical post-metal, sorrow-filled growls that sorta decay into the background with the music being center stage. This normally works in favor of bands like these, as it intensifies the overall sound of music, acting more as a second instrument than a wordy way of disrupting song structure and it's a good way of distinguishing the genre from other forms of metal. This, can also make deciphering whatever is being spoken, near impossible and if you don't have lyrics, you probably have no idea what is being said. I, myself, didn't mind this, as I'm quite used to Rosetta's sound/vocals and view them more of an instrumental band than anything, but I think for someone that is looking clear vocals, you won't really find them here. Track 5 features guest vocals from the guy from City Of Ships, but the song, I actually found quite boring. // 6
Overall Impression: I've loved Rosetta since day one, so to some degree, that might make me bias, but I've tried my best to write a fair review. Rosetta aren't doing anything new (their sound wasn't new when they started). Shoegaze, post-metal, post-hardcore, whatever you wanna call them; there's hundreds of these types of bands now, but I feel Rosetta are really great at doing what they are doing... I just wish they would do something ELSE with it. I will say, that I am quite impressed with how heavy this album is in comparison to previous endeavors and that's not just because I'm a metal fan, but because it shows them trying to, at least, branch out and TRY to do something different. I feel like this album could really be a great start of something new for Rosetta, they just have to push to get there, but until that time comes, it's still just the same as every other Rosetta album. // 7