The name Rosetta has caught my attention recently with a lot of people seemingly talking about the Philadelphian post-hardcore crew. The fact that they got announced for UK Damnation festival no doubt boosted the chat but despite this album being their fourth they were completely new to me. With no other writers taking the reviewing challenge here Rosetta fell to me by default which is sometimes the way I like it as I have found a few gems this way. Looking at the track list I noted their preponderance for naming every song twice and saw that the album was certainly not going to be a short one running over an hour in length.
The rather epic opener Ryu/Tradition shows the two sides of the band, merging a long flowing shoe-gaze, Indie guitar canvas that is going to be considered either mesmerising or monotonous to the listener and bursts of massive chest-beating distempered and indignant vocal roars from singer Michael Armine. Both forms combine well together and the music flows between shades of light and dark well here. Sure it goes on for ages with the track running at over 10 minutes but it did the job of drawing me in well and kept my attention levels throughout, but the question is if it could continue to do so over the whole album? This was an experiment I took up on both home equipment and out and about on headphones. One thing that is definitely advantageous is playing this one loud and shutting out the outside world as it both calms and rages away. Somehow I managed not to walk under a bus
A bit of digging beneath the layers shows that the song-titles are taken from the book Sword And Brush by David Lowry. It’s to do with clarity in martial arts and again shows sides of disparity much like the music itself as practicing can take in everything from flower arranging to close combat. The two musical forms combine brilliantly on ‘In And Yo / Dualities Of The Way’ with the music taking on a post-punk fervour which takes in the likes of everything from Joy Division and The Cure and beyond into the anger of thick chugging bass and heavy drum pummelling. As for the vocals, well they generally don’t do subtle, there are no clean and harmonic croons here, just rough and violent roars.
Hadoko / Compassion is very compassionate if you want to take a breather around the half way mark being a fragmentary instrumental part that is the calmest and most (zen) tranquil part of the album. It also is that exception to the rule and does have some clean and fragrant vocals. I am not sure they are provided by the same singer though. Naturally it is followed by the shortest and most violent part as the next song is designed to level and flatten all in its wake.
I have to err on the side of caution here and although I have generally enjoyed the album it is a case that they have perhaps overstated it all. The album basically finishes with a couple of instrumentals totalling an extra quarter of an hour and although the closer which builds up into a swirl of strange and sinister noises makes some sense the penultimate track could prove more than necessary, hell one if it’s two titles is ‘Emptiness’ and by now I have had my fill here in spades.
That aside despite at times numbing the senses ‘The Anaesthete’ is a good album and one that I can imagine witnessing tracks live with a running time of a no time to waste 40 mins odd being quite dynamic; something that I will hopefully be catching at Damnation in a couple of weeks.
(7/10 Pete Woods)