2. Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin
3. Blue Day for Croatoa
7. A Determinism of Morality
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Rumbling thunder on a clear, starry night, a reverberating, incomprehensible growl that prowls the landscape for miles. A crack of blinding purple-white lightning that splits the midnight sky, echoing, echoing. Placid, soporific patter of a gentle drizzle and the thick, heavy raindrops slapping against concrete in the midst of a violent downpour. The sensation of losing yourself, falling through your mattress into an empty, black abyss as you give in to a fitful slumber. A frenzied, frenetic fever dream: incomprehensible flashes of objects, synaesthetic sensations, unfettered emotions. An inescapable density and heaviness coupled with an ambient, weightless atmosphere—
Others prefer the simplicity of “Metal for astronauts.”
In A Determinism of Reality, Rosetta have conjured a sound that is intangibly immense, like reaching out a hand to touch a star in the depths of space. The pounding bass, expert drumming and assaulting, arresting vocals are immediate and heavy, obviously very much influenced by the towering sounds of post-metal, yet you can lose yourself in the band’s use of subtle, droning ambience and billowing tremolo. In fact, guitarist J. Matthew Weed cites the prolific shoegaze band, Stars of the Lid, as a huge influence. Pulling such disparate influences together, A Determinism of Morality can feel at once angular and aggressive, yet impossibly deep and all-encompassing.
Rosetta don’t stop the genre-bending at post-metal and shoegaze, however. The album’s first track, “Ayil,” is reminiscent of both European screamo and post-rock. High-pitched guitar lines reverberate in the back of the mix, while the foreground is dominated crushing bass, unremitting growls and an exceptional backbeat provided by drummer Bruce McMurtrie Jr.—a sound very similar to Daïtro’s 2006 release, Laisser Vivre Les Squelettes. The track then builds to an intense crescendo, in classic post-rock form, which takes the form of a kidney-dislocating, larynx-stripping breakdown.
Totally lacking Michael Armine’s distinctive vocals, “Blue Day for Croatoa” is a six minute master class in how to write an engaging, beautiful, and heavy post-rock track. Weed’s effect-laden guitar work tiptoes hauntingly under a bass and drum interplay. In the closing minutes, bassist David Grossman’s notes rumble like a guitar in drop G.
The “Re-“ trilogy of songs, “Release,” “Revolve,” and “Renew,” showcase the countless facets of Rosetta’s sound, undulating between tempered placidity and primal expostulation. The dynamics of quiet and loud that continuously permeate A Determinism of Morality are striking and powerful and confer upon the album a great deal of emotional force.
Despite the seemingly piecemeal inclusion of such different genres, A Determinism of Morality isn’t diverse in the typical sense of the word; each of the album’s seven tracks are roughly analogous—“samey,” if you will. There aren’t any marked tempo changes, the band doesn’t introduce new instruments—there are certainly no Between the Buried and Me-esque non-sequitors. Part of what makes it so easy to get lost in the soundscapes of A Determinism of Morality is this unchanging quality about the music. Some may consider this thematic and sonic unity a strength, while some may find it uninspiring and redundant.
The final track, the title track, is a ten-minute, monolithic opus that is a microcosm of the entirety of A Determinism of Reality, effortlessly combining each genre explored throughout the previous tracks of the album into a cohesive whole. It is loud and quiet, heavy and soft, angular and ambient. It thrashes and bucks. It drones and lulls. The final minutes of instrumentation build and repeat as Armine shouts out mantras—the final words of the album are ones that surface in earlier tracks: “Scatter! (Scatter!) Scatter the embers!” And just like waking from a fever dream, eyes darting under closed eyelids, reality and unreality melting into semi-consciousness until they finally, slowly and tenuously, open, the music melts away during the final growled syllable, and then there is silence.