Where some might view the process of Rolo Tomassi’s evolution from frazzling, caustic Dillinger worship to one of the most definitively majestic entities in modern heavy as a rather inconceivable, it’s arguably not that strange. Boiled down to its essence, it’s emblematic of a band refining their craft and finding their voice over time, but the throughline of a band looking to doggedly push sonic boundaries within their field hasn’t changed. There isn’t a band around who sounds exactly like Rolo Tomassi do now—blending progressive metal with hardcore and gorgeous atmosphere for an experience that’s as blissful as it is blistering—and to see agreement of that finally take wing on a larger scale with 2018’s Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It continues to be excellent. So in front of the biggest, most receptive audience they’ve ever had comes Where Myth Becomes Memory, the latest step in Rolo Tomassi’s quest to nudge their apex higher with each release, and quite possibly the strongest testament yet to how far they’ve come. This is a country mile from the weird, aberrant mathcore band with a reputation bound to their namesake from L.A. Confidential; Rolo Tomassi are now at their most enormous and tremendous on every single front. To put it simply, they’ve never sounded more accomplished than they do here, not even just in proficiency but how dynamic and expressive every turn is. Few bands can instill such feelings of glorious light and hope in one moment, and then bring it crashing down the very next, yet Rolo Tomassi convey it with such impeccable ease. It’s easy to attribute that quality to songs like Always Easy and Closer as glistening moments of ease, but even a track like Drip—home to some of the album’s heaviest, most uncompromising moments—has the deftness to weave in shimmering, poised anthemia. These songs aren’t that long, but the movements and transformations they’ll undergo open up into so much more, never overly dense and with the perfect amount of space injected into the perfect amount of brutality.
And even then, with each new detail that reveals itself, Where Myth Becomes Memory feels more and more special for how deeply affecting and effective it all is. The production work is absolutely stunning, particularly on Closer and how it’s allowed to bathe in its own light within some truly flawless atmosphere, but it’s never over-polished either. There’s the wire-tight tension in the blending of guitars and keys on Mutual Rain, the seething bass tone of Labyrinthine and the angular, cleaving riffs that stretch the closest to the band’s older selves on Prescience, but just simple features like the crackles and ticks that emerge from the background of Stumbling offers a personality that elevates the album. The synthesis of everyone involved is second to none, notably the way that Eva Korman as a vocalist feels so equipped to act as a bridging presence on her own. Between spellbindingly beautiful cleans and a time-hewn scream that’s continuously one of the best in the business, she brings such a richness to this music that, honestly, no other frontperson would be able to unlock as succinctly. On a song like the closer The End Of Eternity, where the build and slow-burn is at its most crucial, the screams coming in against the vistas of guitars and gleaming keys (almost black-metal in its execution, honestly) are evident of how titanic music this traditionally ‘unapproachable’ can be. Even that seems to be tarring Rolo Tomassi with the wrong brush though; the human emotion that rings out so clearly in the writing is one thing, but this is of a size and scale that most heavy bands simply will not touch. Add in the composition where every detail bears the same attention and care—it’s hard to remember a heavier album where synths and keys have felt less like a mere ancillary measure than this—and Where Myth Becomes Memory is yet another masterpiece from a band who’ve made that their regular fare, though even vaulting themselves this time. It’s top-tier, forward-thinking music, truly, but actually hearing allows the magic to really set in. Expect to hear the praises of Rolo Tomassi sung once more throughout the year ahead, because heavy music is going to have a task on its hands trying to outdo this.
For fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, The Chariot
‘Where Myth Becomes Memory’ by Rolo Tomassi is released on 4th February on MNRK.
Words by Luke Nuttall