Rosetta – Wake/Lift

Yes, this is in fact another post-metal group, or atmospheric sludge, or whatever term you use for it. No, it’s not as boring as most of the others. Yes, Rosetta has seen fit to involve themselves in a branch of music that’s rapidly growing to the point of oversaturation, but at least they’re making a worthwhile contribution to the genre as a whole. This is good music; not entirely unlike anything else you’ll hear in this stylistic diversion, but it’s still solid and better than most. Rosetta manages to do the most important thing of all with ‘Wake/Lift’, particularly in the post-metal style: not be boring for an entire album.

Most people when describing post-metal bands say that they sound like Isis. This isn’t so much because all the bands really do sound like Isis as much as Isis being the only band of the style that most people have heard of, aside from the off reference to Neurosis/Cult Of Luna/Red Sparowes/Tides if they’re really edgy, etc. Rosetta sounds more like Generation Of Vipers than any of those bands, with a twist of Dysrhythmia’s instrumentation. Essentially, Rosetta does the exact opposite of every other band in the genre. Post-metal, like post-rock, generally depends upon a slow rise and buildup towards a sonic crescendo; yeah, all music essentially does that, but these styles do it in a more glaringly obvious way than any other. Rosetta turns it around by having the most comparatively violent and powerful portions compose the majority of the music here, with the smaller, more gentle parts taking the place of those crescendos: that is, as a rather small part of the overall running time. Additionally, the non-crescendo portions are different: while a band like Pelican plays around with fragments of melody, exploring all the corners of their musical space like late Godflesh, Rosetta is much more ambient in delivery. There isn’t much exploration at all: a sort of misty hanging and drifting, but they don’t really actively go anywhere. This is not a bad thing.

As inappropriate a word as it is, Rosetta is probably the most ‘brutal’ artist in this genre that I’ve heard, apart from certain portions of Generation Of Vipers. The vocals are hoarse roars (though they are pushed rather far into the background), the drumming is unapologetically fierce and crashing, and the guitar riffs often have a sort of Dysrhythmia-meets-Meshuggah forcefulness to them: the chords are jazzy, but they’re played hard and loud. The band is extreme in the other direction, too, though. There aren’t many of the jazzy filler portions that most post-metal bands use to inflate running times. There are long, foggy sections of gentle, washing feedback with distant industrial sound effects instead. It’s different, and it’s pretty good, as it shows the band is smart enough to create some rather cool background ambiance instead of waffling around with the same half-improvised crap that every other band of the same genre is doing. So ‘Wake/Lift’ has a sort of dual hierarchy of attentiveness going on: pay attention to the music when things are going on, don’t when there isn’t. Simple and elegant.

Granted, Rosetta don’t really do themselves any favors in distinguishing themselves from the other legions of similar bands. I mean, the O’Malley style artwork at first glance makes you think nothing more than ‘well shit, here we go again’. But if you’ll give ‘Wake/Lift’ a chance, you’ll actually find a band that’s doing something different from the legion of others. Tuck this right next to your copy of ‘Grace’ in your bookshelf. The grey-flavored cover art on each is complementary, as is the music.

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~ by noktorn on September 17, 2007.

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