Rip-roaring Sheffield powerhouse Rolo Tomassi are back with new album Grievances. The fourth studio album progresses further into melodic realms complete with Tortoise-esque drums and jangly post-rock guitar lines leading to a quintessentially epic Rolo Tomassi finale. Out on CD and vinyl LP from Holy Roar.
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Rolo Tomassi have been doing the same thing for a while now, which, if you’re wondering, is super technical post-hardcore lent the kind of thematic melodrama usually seen towards the more serious end of the grindcore spectrum. I have never particularly loved it; math-skramz only sounds good to me when it’s seamlessly integrated, as with Off Minor, or so ridiculously over the top it becomes part joke (file this reference under the Dillinger Escape Plan). What Rolo do feels like both and neither: they enter ‘Grievances’ with all the techiness they can afford before rolling out melodic soundscaping to envy Envy.
The problem might be that Rolo are too serious with it: towards the end of “Raumdeuter”, they introduce a Krautish electronica rhythm that rolls into what sounds half like a Nightwish song and half like another earnest attempt at hardcore. None of the sounds they’re procuring feel right for eachother, and they seem to quickly abandon the fragments of idea in favour of another furious breakdown in “The Embers”, which trades between guitar riffs that are sometimes good, often quite amusing, and furious blastbeats wrapped around corny choruses.
‘Grievances’ shows that Rolo are still pretty good at a few things, and they integrate a metallic slab of sound wonderfully on this record, reaching for the kind of guitar tone perfected by recent bands like Cloud Rat as well as old skramz crews like Gospel. Atmospherically, Rolo can reach their aspirational heights, but they will always sound confused and confusing to me, a band of many different technical parts failing to coalesce.
10/10 palmat 4th June 2015
When RT dropped their last album Astraea, I thought they had reached their creative apex. Boy was I wrong! With Grievances they literally blow everything they have ever done sky high. This is more than a new record. This is a mission statement. This is a musical force to be reckoned with.
From the first track Estranged things seem quite like it used to be with the band. But then comes polyrythmic stylings than brings to mind the Dillinger Escape Plan and now my interest is piqued. On the second track Raumdeuter things get really serious. From the shuffling drum beat at the start to Eva Spence's soaring vocal delivery this song really encapsulates everything this record is about. Mood, dynamics and epic song writing. Clearly one of the strongest tracks on this monster of a record. On the following sing The Embers RT get funky. Not in the classical sense but there is a certain funkiness to the beat and the playing that reminisces of the Blood Brothers amidst the guitars and drum attacks.
From then on we get a short interlude called Prelude III which is an atmospheric piano piece that work like a segue/build up to the single Opalescent. This is a great track which reminds me of what RT did on Astraea. So if you liked that record this is surely a key track. My only gripe about this song is the end of it, which feels a bit unresolved to be honest. Then we move on to a short guitar interlude (Unseen and Unknown) which sounds like something you´d in hear David Lynch's dreams. Next track is Stages Knives which also picks up after Astraea in many ways. This is a also key track if you liked the last album. Here they blast through the song and the vocals and instruments sound just epic. Then the real curve ball comes, Crystal Cascades. It starts with a lilting piano piece with James Spence on clean vocals but then comes the pounding drums and shoegazy soundscapes and lifts this track up to the heavens. I got chills from this tracks and that happens very rarely. This is THE song for me on this album. Too bad it's so short. We move on to Chandelier Shiver got continues the hushed peiano playing and vocals. Also a beautiful track. The another curve ball, Funereal. For a second I have to check my record platter to see if I accidentally switched to Deafheaven or some other US black metal band. Buzz saw tremolo riffs and punishing blast beats attacks and boy do they pull it off. Too bad it only last a short while and the song then moves into more familiar RT territory with off the chart dynamics and times shifts.
The last track is All That Has Gone Before. Surely an epic track which stretches over seven minutes and is a perfect round off to this blistering and beautiful album. So to conclude this review I can only state that RT have done it again and exceeded all expectations and created an awesome and inspiring album that everyone should buy. I wish them all the success in the world cause they sure as hell deserve it!
9/10 Cai Sumption 11th May 2015
Having heard a handful of singles from this record both online and live, Grievances is shaping up to be the darkest, most brooding release from mathcore aficionados Rolo Tomassi to date. Debut single 'Stage Knives' shows no remorse, demonstrating new drummer Tom Pitts' intense ability throughout. Vocalist Eva Spence showcases what sounds like a refined vocal style on this track, sounding more menacing and evil than ever. On both available tracks James Spence offers heart wrenchingly dissonant piano work, particularly on the follow up single 'Opalescent'. If these singles are anything to go by, Grievances is set to be one of the most angularly crushing records of this year.
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- Grievances by Rolo Tomassi
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