There are two ways to immerse yourself into a Post-Rock/Post-Metal album: A right way and a wrong way. The wrong way would be to put the disc in and slapping the headphones shut on your ears and convincing yourself that is all the work that needs to be done. The right way is to get stoned out of your minds, or better still huff a lot of questionable substances, and allowing every delayed, reverberated rhythm and bass note to take you away from the cruel grasps of reality and into the sepia toned streets of Memory Lane where the music guides you around your familiar haunts and cherished moments, till a warm satisfaction becomes a resident part of your experience. The latter method would do the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Tim Leary very proud of you, but for modesty’s sake let’s just stick to the doobies, everything else, let’s leave it to Rosetta.
A Rosetta album or any Post-Metal album has little to do with showing off one’s skill behind the instrument, and has more riding on the simple mix of thought provoking compositions and sounds. In this context most of the tracks on any such album are usually lengthier than the average Metal number and do not follow common verse-chorus-bridge conventions normally. In average Rosetta fashion “The Anesthete” progresses like a soundtrack of sorts. There’s a fair amount of ambient/atmospheric guitar leads complemented by low temp, measured percussions. Vocalist Michael Armine’s growls punctuate the vibe here and there to maintain the flow. For those that are not used to the Post-Metal conventions, it would be an exercise in futility to expect something less abstract and unpredictable. Rosetta has always been one to walk on the grey line, romancing the chiaroscuro if you will, and they have been good at it since their first release “Gailean Satellites”. Not much has been changed since the inception of their sound and for those of us comfortable in the confines of this sub-genre it’s better when the old dog refuses to play the newer tricks. The atmospherics do most of the talking and there is little to no control over which direction the instruments might traipse towards next. Given the track titles, clearly Rosetta have an algorithmic/formulaic agenda of their own (or borrowed, just an assumption), that is responsible for the nomenclature, and in all probability is tied to the tracks and the stories they tell, closely. There are some memorable moments on the album, especially the opening guitar lines to “In & Yo: The Dualities of the Way” or the piano laden textures of “Hodoku/Compassion”, and those are just the tip of the iceberg.
The fun part as well as the shortcoming of a Rosetta album is that it leaves a lot to imagination. There is no telling what mood the track has been made to reflect because the basic template is the same throughout all of them- This maybe a slight uncomfortable nuance for the uninitiated because the beginning of the album and its end share a distinction without a difference. While sadly unsatisfying for many, including myself, the album leaves a tad bit too much in the listener’s hand, to infer from the album. A general lack of direction coupled with a lack of central premise and a desire to know what comes next also plays a big part in altering the mood prevalent throughout the album. Not many frontmen in Metal can carry a melancholic tune with a growl (Mikael Akerfeldt is a different league of course), the way Steven Wilson does it for Progressive Rock, however Rosetta’s Michael Armine drives his point home with his patented Hardcore yelps and growls. Production wise as well, the album seems to have taken Rosetta’s game a notch higher.
Coming as the 4th chapter in the Rosetta’s journey and their first self-released full-length, “The Ansthete” boasts of 9 tracks of Sludgy, Doomy awesomeness. The album has been produced by Andrew Schneider and the band themselves and saw an August release via their blog. Seldom can a person review an album from this sub-genre without drawing comparisons with the forefathers of the genre Neurosis, and the ones who drove the sound to a more accessible vantage point, i.e. Isis. Rosetta borrows influences from both the apex as well as the nadir of the genre, which finds an audience in a dedicated few rather than a mass. There is nothing on the album that has not been done by the band a dozen times before. However, considerations must be made for the fact that there is little monotony on the album, for those who are already immersed in its nuances. Rosetta has been a firm example of the definition “old wine in a new bottle” and despite the limited number of new surprises and moments, the album makes for a refreshing listen every now and then.
Released in October under the label Debemur Morti, for those who love the genre and the band itself, “The Anesthete” is a must try. Be it the melancholic vibe or the unpredictable drumming or Armine’s sudden outbursts of hoarse, low growls that are so carefully positioned throughout the tracklist, “The Anesthete” makes for a good listen that soon becomes a mainstay on the playlist; more so when the listener keeps replaying the album as a soundtrack to a lazy Friday afternoon or an evening alone on a Saturday night. And since it’s also available as a “Pay-What-You-Want” package from the band’s Bandcamp page, there is no harm and no foul for those new to the genre, looking to break the mould of their usual listening habits- “The Anesthete” is a good place to start as any.