Released earlier this year Grievances is arguably the bands best collection of work yet. Rolo Tomassi are a band that don’t tend to shy away from experimentation blending a whole a multitude of styles with varying results. The issues with some of the groups previous material is that it wasn’t always the most accessible, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing but the chaotic switching of styles mid-song always felt slightly jarring. However with Grievances the band have managed to combine all of their influences into one cohesive record, making their sound more direct whilst still maintaining their identity as a band.
The way in which this album flows is one of it’s greatest strengths. Nothing ever sounds forced and ideas are allowed space to breath as oppose to being choked off in order to crowbar in the next part of the song. The signature Rolo Tomassi frenetic energy is still there but this time it has a focal point instead of peppering the listener with riffs and vocal lines seemingly plucked from out of nowhere. On the topic of riffs this album has them in spades. Surgically precise and bone crushingly heavy you are pummelled by the relentless fretwork. Despite the albums penchant for serious brutality there are moments on this album of pure beauty. Tracks like “Opalescent” really draw you in with a brooding and melancholic atmosphere accompanied by the angelic tones of lead vocalist Eva Spence. With songs like this it’s clear that the band are willing to experiment with even more genres such as shoe-gaze and black metal. For instance the track “Funereal” has an opening riff that any corpse paint wearing Norwegian would be proud of. The abrasive tremolo picked guitars fight against the drums unrelenting blast beats while Eva Spence’s spiteful snarl instils a feeling of both aggression and raw desperation. Grievances is typified by it’s closing track “All That Has Gone Before” a sprawling seven minute epic combining a haunting piano melody with ravenous guitars and extended beautiful soft passages allowing you to really reflect on the rest of the album. It would also be important to mention the inspiring keyboard work of James Spence on this record. The subtle keys and occasional piano melodies really add another dimension to the bands music and allows the group to really broaden their sound in terms of dynamics.
Along with the more mature sound of this record the lyrics on Grievances are clearly well thought out and are extremely poignant. Grievances has a real mixture of feelings, a huge melting pot of isolation, despair along with a large helping of self reflection. A great example of the type of lyrical approach taken on this album can be found in the track “Stage Knives”, “Neither a pawn, nor a king I am nowhere, I am nothing for this betrayal that’s how I should be seen wearing scars I deserve, on a throne of nothing.” As you can see the lyrics are intelligently written and despite their gloomy nature never become overbearing, often using metaphors to allow the listener to attribute those feelings to themselves rather than it being simply a voyeuristic experience.
With the album clocking in around the 40 minute mark Rolo Tomassi manage to accomplish all they set out to do with this record in such an easily digestible time. This is a piece of work that really demands your attention and once it sinks it’s claws into you wont want it to let go. Whatever genre you want to identify Rolo Tomassi as you can’t deny they are truly masters of their craft. With the band clearly on an upward trajectory it’s going to be incredibly exciting to see how the band plan on topping this.