To be brutally honest, at the first two or three listening, I wasn’t quite impressed by this third installment of this tumultuous, but brilliant, experimental, whatever-core band from Sheffield, England. While their debut, 2008’s “Hysterics” shake my world and blew me away, the following, 2010’s “Cosmology” was a fair, but less shocking follow-up.
After the 2011’s departure of two of their founding members, bassist Joseph Thorpe and guitarist Joe Nicholson, Rolo Tomassi bring two new spirits into the band, guitarist Chris Cayford (current vocalist/former guitarist of No Coast) and bassist Nathan Fairweather (who plays in Brontide); and band leader James Spence stating that the new members “breathed new life” in the band, while the music was already 70% complete when they had come.
Ethereal, chill and large spaces are nicely interlaced with the bands disturbing and brutal grindings – and this seems to be the key to decoding “Astrea”. Very groovy, extremely smartly build-up and throughout tensioned, the 10 tracks of “Astrea” will keep you focused and connected.
“Eternal Youth”, their previous, 2011’s release, was a two-disk anthology of rare and non-album materials including acoustic versions, remixes of their own work by various artists and a cover of Throats. It was a good opportunity to get know, dive into the colourful, but contorted, genre defying universe of the band.
Now, “Astrea” it’s probably more accessible than either of its predecessors, Rolo Tomassi find a path to keep in balance the brutal aggression and their synthesizers filled, spacious trips into a Space Rock rooted,
The opening “Howl” started with a tensioned, menacing synth/drum intro just to turn into a schizophrenic, 100% Rolo Tomassi flavored Jazz-Math-(Post)-Hardcore fueled grinding. All the essence, the typical Rolo Tomassi condiments are there to tear your brain to pieces.
“Ex Luna Scientia” have that Death-Gothic massacre taste witch reminded me of Cradle Of Filth, but the breakdown it’s so Jazzy, smooth and charmingly flavoured that washes away the Metal taste instantly. These changes of mood and vibe are the Magic of Rolo Tomassi while their music still seems solid and compact.
“The Scales Of Balance” it’s a pounding Hardcore anthem with twisted and complex rhythmic, but incorporating also several chill moments, smooth breakdowns, maintaining the duality of aggressive/comforter approaches of the album.
“Remancer” it’s one strip to the bone Hardcore butchery in less then 2 minutes while the following “Empiresk” starts very gently with a generously spacious trip into an Ethereal universe only to turn into a furious, modern flavored Heavy Metal anthem.
“Prelude II (Echolalia)” it’s filled with mystery and tension, sound like a scaling and it’s blow away by the furious raging of “Echopraxia”.
“Gloam” have a strange 70’s like magnetism and vibe chopped by some sharp riffs and convulsive vocals. “Illunis” continue with the same mixture of 70’s psychedelic experiments and modern butchery, quite intense piece of ride.
My favorite is the closing epic, “Illuminare” with its over 7 minutes of joyful journey and maniac riffs and breakdowns. It’s definitively the crown on this intense, but smartly balanced album.
With more melodic moments, quieter breakdowns and spacy chill passages, “Astrea” it’s an intelligent and mature product from a still virulent and intense band, one of the few actually edge-cutting post-whatever bands of this decade. Good and refreshing to listen something blunt, genuinely brutal, heavy and intense, but avoiding the recycled cliches of a quite disoriented and misleaded generation.
01. Howl (4:39)
02. Ex Luna Scientia (3:58)
03. The Scales Of Balance (3:34)
04. Remancer (1:49)
05. Empiresk (4:00)
06. Prelude II (Echolalia) (1:03)
07. Echopraxia (3:16)
08. Gloam (3:32)
09. Illunis (4:51)
10. Illuminare (7:36)
The band are self-produced their third full-length co-produced with their debut “Hysterics” producer Jason Sanderson.
planned to be released in 5 November 2012 in the United Kingdom through Destination Moon, the band’s own record label.
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