Artist: Rolo Tomassi
Record label: Holy Roar
Release Date: 31st May 2015
The Sheffield quintet's 4th full-length is occasionally their most beautiful and always their most bleak album to date
Always a band who lurched free of almost anything that was expected of them, Rolo Tomassi were due a trip to ground level after the dizzying conceptual realms of Cosmology and Astraea. Though the Spence twins' vocal incantations on Grievances are often as poetic as always, there are very few cracks of light in their rhetoric. On Grievances the band balance their feral nihilism and spectral fragility more emphatically than ever before, but whatever the sonic mood it's an album with a constant darkness at its core.
In terms of performance there are some of the most electrifying tracks the band have ever recorded here. Whether rasping viciously or soaring angelically, Eva Spence's vocals are stronger than ever. The interplay between styles and soundscapes is sometimes intimidating, especially new boy Tom Pitts' drumming.
Opener 'Estranged' is impossibly brutal Dillinger-esque madness complete with an eerie Faith No More-inspired piano interlude. 'Raumdeuter' takes on a crushing Deafheaven-esque post-rock dynamic with star-gazing synth bursts halfway through, complete with such quips from Spence as "teach me a lesson, built upon my disgrace". 'Opalescent' is beautifully considered and measured, and 'Stage Knives' is a myriad of short, sharp diversity. On the closing 7 minutes of 'All That Has Gone Before' ambidextrous piano leads are entwined with doom-laden guitar chords as Eva Spence repeats in both growls and siren-like coos that "we can't be loved as we are".
There are a few missteps; 'The Embers' strays slightly too close to Periphery- esque irritation melodically. Despite being inflected with mournful violin harmonies 'Crystal Cascades' is nowhere near as epic as it wants to be and 'Chandelier Shiver' offers little as its partner in orchestral slow-burning. All the same, there are enough moments here to prove that mostly Rolo Tomassi are wonderfully adept at what they do.
Key Tracks: 'Raumdeuter', 'Opalescent', 'Stage Knives'
For Fans Of: Isis, Dillinger Escape Plan, Deafheaven