Rolo Tomassi


Rolo Tomassi have come a long way in such a short span of years that it is remarkable to remember how blistering they were even in their formative early days. Back in 2008, I saw them play a set in one of the small anterooms of now defunct Leeds venue The Cockpit that was so feral and unhinged it barely seemed real – five young people not yet out of their teens performing with a ferocity that is forever seared into my memory. That ferocity has been duly captured and enhanced over a series of enthralling albums that have lead up to their latest, fulsome release. Following the tremendous advances the group made on ‘Astraea’, Rolo Tomassi have taken another huge leap forward. ‘Grievances’ is yet another progression, searing and sinuous in equally exhilarating fashion.

The new album delivers right out of the gate with ‘Estranged’, a feverish math mangle that razes to the ground everything that is set before it. Rolo Tomassi are the wild children borne of Converge and the Dillinger Escape Plan’s technical ecstasy, borne thousands of miles away but in full possession of that visionary collision between the atavistic and the exultant – that is the essence of the group’s totemic, visceral power. Those qualities are featured most daringly here on tracks such as ‘Raumdeuter’, and ‘The Embers’, their sheer assurance and sophistication a wonder to behold. Eva Spence’s vocal command remains one of the most potent weapons in extreme metal, a blade honed amid the aural contortions that it is relentlessly ground upon, never losing its razor-sharp capabilities. Short circuit guitar pathways scorch and suspend themselves alongside riptides of bright melodic arcs, their brutality landing as harshly just as surely as their melodic immediacy. But these signature aggressions are given nuance by the surprising yet welcome pools of evocative piano-centred pieces.

Fragments like ‘Prelude III (Phantoms)’ and ‘Chandelier Shiver’ act as an emollient, providing depth and space in readiness for the next searing anthem. These sparse and sensitively constructed pieces are carefully placed within the running order, staging posts that signal a new maturity in Rolo Tomassi’s composition style. The late lamented US math rockers The End attempted this level of melodic evocation amidst pummelling harshness on their 2007 album ‘Elemental’ (which sadly proved to be their swansong), but with Grievances Rolo Tomassi truly have mastered the creation of such a hybrid, heightening their melodies and anthemic qualities whilst retaining their brutality and technical prowess within the contours of a finely honed album sequence. The closing epic ‘All That Has Gone Before’ displays everything that this extraordinary British band have to offer – the brusque beauty of hard-punching low and scalded vocals, the abrupt, jagged flash of twin guitars, the blast/soothe/blast structure of their most penetrating compositions. Eva Spence may mournfully sings "there is no glory in the end" as the track climaxes, but there is more than enough glory to be freely given here.

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