9/19/2008 - Review by: Etiam
When Rosetta released their 2005 debut, 'The Galilean Satellites', the metal scene at large had yet to realize just how inundated with it was with groups in this vein. Eager to celebrate the genre's more contemplative and intellectual side while at the same time kicking the nu-metal craze, fans from Bumble, Montana to the core of youth culture in urban centers snapped up every Neurosis tribute group that the States could produce. As such, Rosetta and 'The Galilean Satellites', with studious introspection, multi-lingual titles, and Romanticized astronaut protagonist, were perfectly primed to succeed.
These few years later, 'Wake/Lift' arrives as the band's second LP to a scene much harder to impress, and as such it's no surprise that 'Wake/Lift' isn't generating quite the same buzz as its predecessor. This reprisal of that explosive and occasionally even Botch-evoking debut is less immediate and with more refinement--what press material generally refers to as a 'mature' sound. Main songwriter and guitarist James Weed still is proficient, laying straight-picked, penetrating leads over groundswelling rhythms and using ambient electronics in a subtle and effective role. His style is a little more narrative and varied than many of his peers, but Rosetta still ascribes (generally) to the familiar and predictable slow-burning climax. Along the way, 'Wake/Lift' does feature more meter variation than in some previous works, but it does so at the cost of riffing dynamics, and although the drums push further into syncopation, they tend to be exist in cacophonous or entirely languid extremes, losing much sense of the in between and lessening their impact ('Wake' is but an exception).
Frankly, aside from Weed's noodles and embellishments, nothing on 'Wake/Lift' is especially new or intriguing. Vocalist Michael Armine (predictably bearded) has a slow and declamatory style that should be familiar to fans of Mouth of the Architect, Cult of Luna, and every other band even loosely affiliated with the term 'post-metal' in the past 10 years. The bass is thankfully present, but does little more than sketch out the same handful of chord progressions repeatedly. Wasn't this genre supposed to be experimental?
Perhaps for the 90s, but today soundscaping should no longer be considered experimental at all. The reverb-laden leads, vast instrumental swaths, monotonous bellows in the background, and lumbering meta-rhythms were all explored and perfected in the early years of this decade and have grown very little since. Rosetta's particular brand is indeed poised and 'Wake/Lift' is transiently entrancing, but any number of records that precede it have proved that it simply isn't necessary.
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