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Rosetta | ‘Utopioid’

A few months back, this reviewer had the pleasure of catching Rosetta play a small, intimate venue.

With a full house, the crowd moved in close – and were soon lulled into a steady group headbang, the crash and recede of the songs taking over.

Vocalist Michael Armine was a revelation, moving onto the floor and displaying the kind of visual passion so many post-metal bands lack.

Since the release of ‘The Galilean Satellites’ and ‘Lift/Wake’ in the mid-2000s, the fully-independant Philadelphia band have been quietly building their dedicated fanbase.

Definitely appealing to those who hold Isis’s ‘Oceanic’ as a masterpiece, this latest album hit the top of the Bandcamp charts on release, showing the hunger out there for this kind of music.

Happily, Rosetta have definitely blazed their own trail.

Lightest Material Yet

On their last record, we reported that Rosetta had penned some of their “lightest material yet”. ‘Utopioid’ starts in similar fashion, taking a good ten minutes until the dynamic swirl of ‘Neophyte Visionary’ really unleashes the power.

What’s showcased over the time is a band really crafting an expansive guitarscape, complete with detailed ambience, layered delay, and a muscular sense of dynamics. The interplay between snapping drums and the rich, atmospheric drive of the guitars across the album is straight-out enjoyable.

Things get properly heavy on ‘King Ivory Tower’, with a lumbering riff right out of the Neurosis playbook that playfully smashes the delicate movements of the proceeding tracks.

Likewise, the soft switch between the vocals on ‘Detente’ are a fine example of how soft and hard can so effectively be used, with piercing notes spiralling off the song as it goes down a black hole of noise.

More and more as the album progresses, there’s a sense of being pulled into something. It’s almost gravitational, a fitting feel for a band that have always been obsessed with space.


Rosetta weave a web with these dynamics that really does impress.

They’re playing within a style and a sound that’s very much defined, but they wring emotion and catharsis out these sounds in a way that’s nothing but genuine.

It is a long record. You get the impression that, out on the independent fringe, unencumbered by label concerns, the group have just opted to provide as much music as possible. But around the hour mark, it does get a bit repetitive.

It’s especially rewarding when they delve into simmering, meditative sounds of ‘Hypnagogic’, the sense of an alien presence being repeatedly underlined.

Overall, the group have delivered a real slice of character here. Perfect for a contemplative morning or drive in the Winter light, there’s a flow to proceedings that can take you away.

3.9 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 29/10/17

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