Most bands have a genre tag that you can slap on them. I don’t mean that in a negative way, of course. I just mean that the majority of artists can be associated with a certain genre or sub-genre, and as a result can be placed under an umbrella or two alongside other bands that sound similar to them. But every now and again, you get a band that simply can’t be pigeonholed. A band that can’t be placed under any umbrella. A band that are more like the rain, crashing down on every umbrella in some way or another. One of those bands is Rolo Tomassi. The Sheffield quintet have been making their own unique and impossible to replicate brand of noise since 2005, making their first breakthrough with 2008’s Hysterics. 10 years on they’re still making waves, and they’re unleashing their fifth full length album Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It. An album which, according to front-woman Eva Spence, “has a lot more to give than just brutally heavy music.”
If you came here expecting frantic drums, mind bending riffs, crushingly heavy guitars, unpredictable chaos and the occasional jazz break, then fear not. This album has it in troves. The Rolo Tomassi that we have come to know and love over the years is still here. Lead single Rituals is a doomy runaway train, bursting through blast beats and complex riffs whilst Eva furiously screams “You’ll find it’s not all what it seems”. Whispers Among Us kicks straight into odd time signatures and manic riffs, and then crashes into enormous walls of chords that are married with the same doomy feel. Alma Mater could easily belong on a record by The Dillinger Escape Plan, taking you on a rollercoaster ride through a variety of different tempos and feels whilst keeping you firmly on the edge of your seat. It’s also worth mentioning that the heavy break in this track is like being hit in the face by a mountain; it’s unexpected and it’s HUGE. The entire album isn’t complete chaos, though, and this is what surprised me the most about the record. The shades of light are truly beautiful. I know they aren’t strangers to dabbling with softer and more melodic sections, but this record is on another level entirely. Aftermath flows in and out of serene calm passages and immersive soundscapes with ease, constantly shifting the dynamics and causing my hairs to stand on end. A Flood Of Light is an 8 minute long trip through both the aggressive and softer sides of the band, blending the atmospheric landscapes and the shadows together with soaring guitar sections and pain-filled vocals. The shining star of the record though is in the form of Contretemps and album closer Risen. The former is one giant build, using every single instrument they have at their disposal and numerous changes in dynamics to lead you towards swelling guitars, pounding drums and some angelic chords that gave me goosebumps. It then drops right back down to the bare bones. Using just a piano, the occasional cymbal swell and Eva’s reverb soaked voice, they create an eerie yet beautiful passage that gently leads you into the album closer, Risen. This continues from where Contretemps left off, and is very much stripped back. The guitar is clean and clear, absolutely drenched in delay and reverb, which when carefully placed underneath Eva’s vocals creates a simply beautiful sound. The track fades out with the line “the love we dreamed of” gradually disappearing into silence, and you’re left basking in it, thinking about everything you just heard. This is still very much a Rolo Tomassi album, it’s just a different breed of animal than we’ve heard before. In my opinion, a superior breed. To say I was impressed is a huge understatement.
Eva was completely right when she said that this album is more than just heaviness. This album is like the musical version of a colouring book. Some of the pages are neatly coloured in with every colour imaginable, whilst others are chaotic scribbles blurring all the colours into darker shades. It is without doubt the most accomplished and grown up they’ve ever sounded. If you listen from beginning to end the songs flow in and out of each other with ease and truly take you on a journey. Every song has the strength to stand alone, but the impact is far greater when listened to in it’s entirety. If you’re a fan of this band already, you may well think this is the best album of their career. If you’re new to Rolo Tomassi, you’ve arrived at the best time. They’re on top of their game right now, and I reckon this album is going to do far more than ruffle a few feathers.
Catch them on tour across the UK and Europe throughout March and April at the following dates;
March 27th – Randal – Bratislava
March 28th – Robot City – Budapest
March 29th – Nova Chmelnice – Prague
March 30th – Musik & Frieden – Berlin, Germany
March 31st – Headcrash – Hamburg, Germany
April 1st – Patronaat – Haarlem, The Netherlands
April 3rd – Audio – Glasgow
April 4th – Deaf Institute – Manchester
April 5th – Asylum 2 – Birmingham
April 6th – The Exchange – Bristol
April 7th – The Garage – London
April 8th – Strangeforms Fest – Leeds