Rosetta – The Anaesthete (Debemur Morti Productions)Sunday, 29th September 2013
Philadelphia’s Rosetta has been entrancing listeners with their explosive post-rock for a decade now, and if their self-released fourth album is any indication, the band is seeking to continue pushing the boundaries within the confines of a crowded genre. Standing in the shadows of progressive titans like Isis and Neurosis, Rosetta seems ready to stake their claim and become the pathfinder for today’s space-rock acts (The band jokingly refers to their specific style as “rock for astronauts.”). If there ever was a perfect brand of hypno-metal, this may be it. I accidentally listened to the same song on repeat and didn’t even notice – how about that for losing yourself in the music?
The Anaesthete sees Rosetta rounding nicely into form, continuing to cram as much despair, passion, heaviness – sound, really – into each track, yet focusing on crafting a composition out of so many amazing musical moments. The guitars – manned by J. Matthew Weed – shimmer and shine one moment, then ground and pound the next. The punishing rhythm section of drummer Bruce McMurtie Jr. and bassist David Grossman drones and explodes, the only respite in the chaos coming in the form of airy instrumental passages. At times, there is so much music coming at you, it’s hard to believe that the band is just a foursome.
The album starts off strong with “Ryu/Tradition,” a 10-minute exercise in finding the balance between beauty and beast, complete with delicate guitar lines and dancing drums paving the way for Michael Armine’s vocals to cut through the sonic landscape, right to the bone. The vocals are mixed higher than on previous efforts, allowing the listener to be dragged into his aural abyss.
As it progresses, The Anaesthete continues to descend into the darkness, punctuated by “Oku/The Secrets,” which sounds like it belongs on an early Baroness album, while “Hodoku/Compassion” trails off with an interesting piano melody and clean (!!) vocals. Rosetta closes it all out with two instrumental tracks, “Ku/Emptiness” and “Shugyo/Austerity,” the only misstep. “Ku/Emptiness” is one of the best tracks on the album, but together, it seems an unrewarding way to end an awe-inspiring journey – a minor flaw in an otherwise outstanding effort.