Where Myth Becomes Memory

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Almost Always
02. Cloaked
03. Mutual Ruin
04. Labyrinthine
05. Closer
06. Drip
07. Prescience
08. Stumbling
09. To Resist Forgetting
10. The End Of Eternity

A consistently enlightened force for creative good in the UK's populous heavy music scene, ROLO TOMASSI have made a virtue of ignoring what everyone else is doing and following a singular path. Ostensibly borne of the hardcore scene, the Sheffield quintet embraced a liberated, come-one-come-all musical philosophy from the start. Early albums like "Hysterics" and "Cosmology" were rightly praised for their genre-slicing audacity, but it has been in more recent times that ROLO TOMASSI have evolved into the band they long promised to be. Both 2015's "Grievances" and 2018's "Time Will Die and Love Will Bury it" were widely acclaimed, both for the band's seamless and symbiotic, post-everything approach to songwriting and for the undeniable fact that this band are still more than capable of taking people's faces off from close range. Alternately beautiful and terrifying, "Where Myth Becomes Memory" completes a nominal trilogy of albums and seems to be the most strident and knowingly definitive of the lot.

Still skittering mischievously around between shimmering shoegaze, excoriating extreme metal, experimental electronics and balls-to-the-wall, left-field hardcore, ROLO TOMASSI sound more inquisitive and subversive than ever here. Opener "Almost Always" is a miniature masterpiece, imbued with the spirit of artful indie bands like LOW and MY BLOODY VALENTINE, but sited squarely in this band's sonic world, it slowly unfolds like the ultimate post-rock symphony, drifting gently from maxed-out ambience to sweet, melodic restraint and on to an overwhelming barrage of guitars. On an equally high level of invention, a single, repeated piano note ushers in "Mutual Ruin", a wonderfully lithe and bullish deluge of angular, snotty mathcore, with a grandiose and dramatic, multi-layered mid-section and a spine-tingling, solo piano coda. "Drip" is a deceptive beast, too. After a prolonged spew of feedback and snare, the song erupts into swirling, screaming bedlam, before another of those exquisitely askance melodic hooks drifts up from the maelstrom, Korman's ferocious screams providing the only remaining foothold in the known world. Much more direct, "Cloaked" is a more streamlined expression of this band's cherished blurred boundaries, with a thunderous, lurching groove, bursts of tooth-dislodging extremity and a delicately bittersweet vocal refrain from frontwoman Eva Korman.

Both "Prescience" and "To Resist Forgetting" fit that bill, too: each offers a more sophisticated and confident take on ROLO TOMASSI's trademark savagery, but the intensity of the performances suggest that maturity hasn't removed a single rough edge or deviant instinct. That something as seemingly incongruous as instrumental, treated piano interlude "Stumbling" should slot so neatly and naturally into the flow of these avowedly schizophrenic songs speaks volumes. A triumph for intuition and instinct, "Where Myth Becomes Memory" is another unique and relentlessly fascinating ROLO TOMASSI album, and arguably their finest yet.

Author: Dom Lawson
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