For Fans Of
It’s literally impossible to pick a single genre to label Rolo Tomassi (no really, try it), which is why the non-specific term ‘experimental hardcore’ comes in handy. In a scene of similar bands, in fact, in a world where every scene has artists that sound 90% exactly alike (not that that’s a problem), they remain a diamond in the rough, even a decade after their formation. Certainly, listening to a song without the ability to anticipate what’s going to come next is refreshing and immensely underrated.
Luckily for us, Rolo Tomassi have retained the ferocity that makes their music so damn therapeutic to listen to. ‘Estranged’ opens ‘Grievances’, their fresh monster of an LP, with rough uncleans and growls. It’s mostly fast, but sharp, not messy and indistinguishable. ‘The Embers’ extends on the aggression of this record with eeriness, predominantly courtesy of its guitars. Closer ‘Funereal’ (funereal? ethereal? fun?) has an exciting time signature, but also cements the fact that this album is dimensional, and Rolo Tomassi just keep transcending any expectations that they’ll deliver average-Joe-hardcore.
Something else this album has going for it is its sudden volume changes and dynamism. On standout ‘Stage Knives’, guitars are pressing and intense one moment and not the next, like waves crashing in and the ocean going quiet again. Immediately, listening to the song becomes an experience, not a leisure activity. ‘All That Has Gone Before’, the album’s closer, has its visceral climb communicated less in pummelling rapidity and primarily in the slow tension created by its instrumentals and the harsh screams that dive through them, while at other points, Spence’s calm cleans complement her vehemence.
The intensity of this record is aided by its use of strings and piano, which add to its intricacy as Rolo Tomassi complexly craft the sound that they’re inventing, not trying to perfect. ‘Chandelier Shiver’ is hailed in by eerie piano notes and graced by gorgeous violins and violas. It would fit on a film score as well as it does here. Also see ‘Crystal Cascades’ for amazingly haunting strings. ‘Prelude III’ is home to another spot of great piano, a soft, jarring song that contrasts like the calm before the storm.
This sort of thing is why Rolo Tomassi are unclassifiable: their trade is genre-bending, not intentionally but because they disregard conventions and do what they like. They are what they are, and that’s architects of intelligent, uncaring gems.
‘Grievances’ is an experimental hell of a ride. You can tell from its sound that Rolo Tomassi aren’t commercially or conventionally inclined. That point alone validates the empathetic ferocity that this record offers up, not just in its screams but in its quiet.
3. The Embers
4. Prelude III (Phantoms)
6. Unseen and Unknown
7. Stage Knives
8. Crystal Cascades
9. Chandelier Shiver
11. All That Has Gone Before