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Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It review

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Band: Rolo Tomassi
Album: Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
Release date: March 2018

01. Towards Dawn
02. Aftermath
03. Rituals
04. The Hollow Hour
05. Balancing The Dark
06. Alma Mater
07. A Flood Of Light
08. Whispers Among Us
09. Contretemps
10. Risen

Is there even such a thing as originality in music anymore? Is it unrealistic to aspire towards perfection? When I find myself pondering questions such as these, I listen to Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It.

When I first encountered Rolo Tomassi in 2010 (as main support to The Dillinger Escape Plan at a gig that The Ocean opened; in hindsight, what a line-up that was), I didn't envisage developing this kind of affection for them; as someone who was struggling to digest The Dillinger Escape Plan at that time, Rolo Tomassi's rough-around-the-edges frenetic mathcore sound didn't draw me in. In the seven years that followed, even as I learned to enjoy The Dillinger Escape Plan, Rolo Tomassi barely registered on my radar, so when hype built around their new album in 2018, it seemed as good a time as any to give them another try and see whether time and a maturing music taste had increased their appeal. To say that Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It was 'appealing' is perhaps the understatement of the century.

At its core, this album is still rooted in mathcore; however, it's impossible to pigeonhole the sound of Time Will Die? into a single genre. It's not exactly a novelty for a mathcore album to feature diversity; even back in 2007, The Dillinger Escape Plan were opening Ire Works with bludgeoning violence and closing it with a piano ballad. The thing that makes Time Will Die? so remarkable is not just that it combines the likes of mathcore, prog, post-rock, ambient music and dream pop into a single sound, but that every component feels so normal alongside everything else that the album doesn't feel like some eclectic fusion, but just a single natural cohesive sound. This is an album that opens with Brian Eno-inspired ambience ("Towards Dawn") transitioning into a dreamy pop/rock cut ("Aftermath") before unleashing sonic violence ("Rituals"), whilst making that journey seem completely logical.

Structure is one of the many major strengths that Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It has as an album; arguably the most seamless and captivating shift on the album comes after the bleakness of "Rituals" finishes, when the stomping aggression and pained screams give way to a slick cymbal pattern and ominous clean guitar melody, heralding the arrival of "The Hollow Hour". This section here highlights another strength of the album, namely how dynamic it is. This is an album that can and does switch between intensity and levity without limitations; this is most obvious with the back-to-back double-header of "Aftermath" and "Rituals", but the longer songs shift about, and even the shorter songs can balance bruising or violent riffs with euphoric or melancholic clean sections ("Alma Mater" follows up a clean break with a pummelling breakdown). Rolo Tomassi can also combine elements of both ends of the spectrum with ease; the vocals on "Contretemps" are predominantly screamed, even though there's euphoric clean guitars and keyboards otherwise dominating the soundscape. Despite the range of tones and emotions on the record, it never feels overloaded; ideas don't feel thrown into the album and swiftly forgotten, each segment fulfilling its purpose before moving on.

The instrumentation across the album is excellent; the drums are regularly busy, whether with blast beats ("Rituals"), off-kilter jazzy rhythms ("Balancing The Dark") or thunderous rolls ("Contretemps"). Perhaps the unsung hero, however, is James Spence on the keyboards, which play a large role in setting the tone of each song. Both "Aftermath" and "Rituals" open with the keyboards, but whilst the sound in "Aftermath" is bright and whimsical, there's a real sense of impending danger to the slow, oscillating motif at the start of "Rituals". Spence also does a great job of switching between tones within songs; "Balancing The Dark" opens with eerie chords that feel sinister despite the mellow tone, but when it moves into the verse, an almost panic alarm-esque tone takes over, adding a real potency. The keys can be simple or complex as needed, and so can the band as a whole; in addition to the intense mathcore openings of "Alma Mater" and "Whispers Among Us", there's a disorienting, almost suffocating climax to "Balancing The Dark" that encircles and ensnares listeners. However, when a song calls for simplicity, such as the muted second half of "Contretemps", it feels just as easy.

Instrumentally, the album is brilliant, and thankfully the vocals rise to the challenge of matching the rest of the band; Eva Spence is a great screamer, with real passion and intensity, but is also a great clean vocalist. The vocal melodies also do a great job of prioritizing memorability; many mathcore or math-y post-hardcore bands have passionate vocals delivering elaborate, dramatic choruses, but on Time Will Die?, the emotional peaks are direct, whether it's the chorus and finale of "Aftermath", or the climax of "The Hollow Hour". She's also able to throw in more unconventional approaches, particularly the cleaner segment nestled in the middle of all the aggression on "Rituals".

All these elements I've mentioned so far culminate in the real crowning achievement of the album and band, namely the three long songs, and particularly "A Flood Of Light", a song that follows a heavy/soft first half with a display of euphoria and passion that is almost unparalleled in this sphere of music. If I have one minor issue with this album, it's that the song's climax is so epic that the sudden jump into the mathcore opening of "Whispers Among Us" feels anticlimactic; this next song is strong, albeit my least favourite on the album, but "A Flood Of Light" ends on such a sense of finality that nothing could live up to it, and thus some momentum is temporarily lost. However, this is ultimately a tiny blemish on an otherwise perfect face.

I'm nearly 1000 words into this and I feel like I could write a thousand more, so I'll finish off by summarizing that Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It is a landmark release for heavy music in the 21st centry, at least in my opinion. It reminds me of film critic Mark Kermode referring to Pan's Labyrinth as a life-changing experience, in so much as it gave him fresh hope about the future of cinema. Around the time that this album was released, I'd started to wonder whether I was at that age where nothing could connect with me in the way that my early favourites did; then Rolo Tomassi came along and showed me that new music can still make that impact. It's overly optimistic of me to hope that their upcoming album will similarly deliver, but even if it doesn't, Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It will remain a masterpiece and testament to the potential creativity that remains in metal and associated genres.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 8
Production: 9

Written on 07.05.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not

Staff review by
Light and dark. Black and white. Yin and yang. Balancing the dark is something often searched for and Rolo Tomassi's fifth album does it.

published 14.04.2018 | Comments (6)


Comments: 3   Visited by: 67 users
07.05.2021 - 02:10
What a fantastic review of a fantastic album. I need to revisit this one tomorrow.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
07.05.2021 - 10:04
Rating: 10

Written by RaduP on 07.05.2021 at 02:10

What a fantastic review of a fantastic album. I need to revisit this one tomorrow.

I've kept wanting to sit down and write about it for a while, but I was listening to it during a run yesterday and gave into that urge when I got home, it's just really special
07.05.2021 - 10:19
Written by musclassia on 07.05.2021 at 10:04

I've kept wanting to sit down and write about it for a while, but I was listening to it during a run yesterday and gave into that urge when I got home, it's just really special

It's one of those albums that I gave a high rating to, but in retrospect it deserved an even higher one.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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