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It’s so easy to label a music genre as “post *insert name here*” without ever knowing what the hell you mean by that. Rosetta are victims of this label, often defined as a post-metal act, thrown in with contemporaries Cult of Luna and Russian Circles. But what’s the point of such a broad title if we can’t decipher what it means, or what makes good post-metal? Now, I detest the genre debate that so many metalheads embroil themselves in, but I’m going to take a red-hot crack at explaining why the aforementioned Rosetta’s surprise LP Utopioid is one of the strongest releases for the genre this year.
Basically, I see post-metal as a stripping away of all the elements that have traditionally characterised the genre, maintaining just the heaviness in pursuit of something more organic. Utopioid meets this idea head on, dropping guitar solos, excessive double kicks, violent lyrical themes and overwhelming amounts of overdrive in favour of slower, reflective compositions that thoughtfully explore dynamic extremes. Put simply, this group like to play really heavy and really soft, with everything in-between. Intrapartum is the first notable example of this, with a haunting call and response between the guitar leads and tender vocals of Mike Armine contrasted by the roaring gang calls and thunderous drum fills of the conclusion. Likewise, King Ivory Tower doesn’t depend on technical proficiency to strike a chord with listeners, allowing the hypnotic drum work of BJ McMurtrie and relentlessly cascading dynamic assault to slowly increase the musical pressure to a crushing intensity.
Throughout the course of listening too Utopioid it’s obvious that Rosetta have produced a magnificent addition to the increasingly expanding world of experimental metal.
Apart from dropping the more cliché metal facades, it’s the focus on atmosphere and musical soundscape that (IMHO) characterises the apparent “post” metal sound that Rosetta have mastered. For every riff on Neophyte Visions there is a radiant guitar lead gently crying over the churning storm, and the beautiful instrumental 54543, built around a wonderfully subtle lead line, is the melodic high point of the record. This constant dynamic variety is what makes Utopioid so digestible, using cuts like Hypnagogic to turn their backs on the metal completely and allow their haunting vocal harmonies to carry the listener away. In terms musicality, technical skill and voice Rosetta have all the tools on their belt, but it’s the careful usage of these assets that gives each song their distinctive ethos.
Throughout the course of listening too Utopioid it’s obvious that Rosetta have produced a magnificent addition to the increasingly expanding world of experimental metal. Genre’s aside, the fantastic thing about this band is their refusal to be pigeon-holed by fans and critics alike. Rosetta drop the long overdone idea of creating music as heavy and loud as possible, opting for the more melodic slow-burn that truly sticks in your head. Releasing records as good as this with no press to promote beforehand is the definition of letting the music speak for itself, and if you give this the time to do so, it sure as hell delivers. Thank goodness, we get to hear the record in the flesh in December when the boys come down under to support Sleepmakeswaves.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Intrapatrum, King Ivory Tower & Hypnagogic
STICK THIS NEXT TO: Cult Of Luna, Meniscus & Neurosis