Sheffield mathcore five-piece Rolo Tomassi are well known for their unbounded creativity and roller-coaster ride releases, and their latest album Grievances does not fail to deliver. The album radiates sheer extroverted thrill from every sporadic jump and woeful decline.
From the offset, opening track ‘Estranged’ is guttural and intense until it is split by a sudden synth twist, and builds up malevolent anticipation for what is to come. The album is characterized by the weighty laid-thick vocals of singer Eva Spence – who can scream to shame even the gruffest vocalist – best heard across tracks ‘Raumdeuter’ and ‘All That Has Gone Before’.
As we have seen across their previous three studio releases, Rolo Tomassi are masters of building and breaking anticipation. When it comes to ‘The Embers’ or ‘Stage Knives’ that vociferous energy expresses itself in creative DIY approach to song writing with a myriad of surprises crammed into a matter of minutes. Intense angst and seductive breaks are smashed faultlessly together in ‘Funereal’, leaving no doubt as to their mathcore credentials.
And yet this album continues to surprise with much of it taking on a softer and more laid back sound, beguiling us with its addictive confusion. Uncomfortable seductive piano features strongly at many points, coming to prominence in ‘Opalescent’ and at its peak in ‘All That Has Gone Before’. Back-to-back songs ‘Crystal Cascades’ and ‘Chandelier Shiver’ move seamlessly together, using distorted piano and strings to breed exhilaration. As enticing as these soft switches are, they feel a little unsatisfying and lost, and it’s not entirely clear as to why they are there in the first place.
What you get from Grievances is an enthused and ambitious manifestation of Rolo Tomassi’s boundless creative bravery. They’ve mushed everything and anything they feel into a medley of tracks and it has surprisingly worked. The result is addictive from the offset but only if confusion is your vice, for this is an album for those that crave the unfamiliar. Love it or loathe it, Rolo Tomassi have delivered again on what they do best.