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Review: Rolo Tomassi – Astraea (Album)

The Sheffield fivesome have returned for another dose of trippy mathcore, and we have the drop on it!

Artist: Rolo Tomassi
Album: Astraea (Album)
Release Date: 05/11/12

Rolo Tomassi have always been one of those bands on the fringe of something really special, bravely treading the middle ground between genres, and with their latest release ‘Astraea’, they’re taking another step towards the supernova of greatness building in their dissonant bundles of rhythm. One of the best things about the band is their complete disregard for convention, and you can rest assured they continue that tradition here.

Atmospheric ‘Howl’ launches the album, with some submerging bass and chiming electronic instrumentals that leads without pause into ‘Ex Luna Scientia’. This is when the album really begins to pick up some momentum, casting aside the slow build of ‘Howl’ in exchange for some infinitely gratifying and precise riffs. Eva and James Spence are both quick to showcase some brutal vocals amidst the churning bass and lead rhythms, demonstrating that they’ve still got all the fire that fuels their powerful body of work so far, not to mention their explosive live shows. Eva‘s clean vocals make a haunting return in ‘The Scales of Balance’ and ‘Illunis’, the latter of which is definitely the album’s greatest moment, mixing all of the progressive NES beat elements and grindcore-esque riffs with some flawlessly matched clean vocalism.

It’s easy to pick some great moments out of ‘Astraea’, the spacey synthesizer sounds, the cutting edge feel of ‘Empiresk’, which takes you on a real journey to the epic, drawling unleashed riffs, and the gripping atmosphere of the titanic ‘Illuminaire’, which might as well have been recorded in an entirely different universe. There are a few weaker moments that are hard to place at first, but they become more and more obvious as you pick up on the good points. ‘Echopraxia’ is as standard a metalcore track as you’re ever going to find, and it sounds like a broken record compared to some of the album’s high notes. It has a habit of dropping short bursts of mediocrity that can really punch its momentum in the proverbial gut, and the links between tracks feel disappointingly weak at times. The album as a whole can feel a little disconnected and sporadic, but individually about 90% of the album is made up of songs you’ll find yourself listening to over and over again, especially if you’re a big fan of the band already. The band are still carefully treading around the edges of greatness, but this is a definite step inwards.

8/10

Reviewer: Laurence Stark

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