I wasn’t part of the clamour surrounding The Anaesthete (Independent release), the band’s previous album; feeling that I couldn’t connect with it and surely, with post-metal, that’s the main objective. Quintessential Ephemera (Golden Antenna/Init/Tokyo Jupiter/War Crime – aye, there really are that many labels involved in the distribution of this fifth full-length from Pennsylvanian Post-men Rosetta.) begins promisingly; the delicate, jangling lead interspersing with icicle-drop keys to give a gentle yet affecting introduction. When Mike Armine’s roar bursts through, along with the pounding drums of ‘(Untitled I)’, the agony is palpable and decorated with the beautiful yet stark chords you’d expect, shimmering exquisitely over BJ McMurtrie’s intricate and creative stickwork. New addition Eric Jernigan of longtime tourmates City of Ships on guitar and vocals makes a large impact. The intermittent use of clean vocals does display an occasional leaning towards Metalcore and Nu Metal, and here a little passion is lost. Those chiming guitars do, however, keep the energy fizzing alongside the progressive rhythms; the breakdown into the easy Shoegaze of ‘(Untitled II)’ – yes, you can see where this is going – reminiscent of state brethren August Burns Red’s quieter moments.
The big debate about Rosetta is whether their ‘emotion’ feels contrived in comparison to the likes of Amber’s ‘Lovesaken’ opus, in which each scream or twisted chord pierced the heart. The explosions of ‘(…II)’s second half finally bring those goosebumps; whilst the more subtle elements of ‘(Untitled III)’ are a pensive yet rhythmic beauty which make way for intelligent, measured yet angry and occasionally pulsating angst. Even the sample-laden ‘(Untitled IV)’ is pure heartfelt expression, while the twisted melancholic crush of ‘(Untitled V)’ allows that shattered organ to slide away on a magic carpet of licks straight from The Edge’s handbook; Armine’s cavernous bellow tearing through the wonderfully drummed, soothing noise of the album’s most inventive, standout track.
Complex yet unbelievably moving, the soundscapes spanning this agonised, bruising album are immense: the resonance of ‘(Untitled VII)’s brooding bombast filling the mind, its delicate verses soothing the disquiet whilst rising, almost elegiac leads duel with those mesmeric drums. The aching void of aptly-named closer ‘Nothing in the Guise of Something’ initially seems a strange choice to close such a huge set; yet is, in turn, the kind of intelligent masterstroke these boys obviously have in abundance. Quintessential Ephemera is a true listening experience and a journey of the soul.