These days Rolo Tomassi are unrecognisable from the precocious mathcore mob that exploded from Sheffield in the mid-’00s. Fronted by the incendiary Spence siblings, Eva and brother James, their headspinning 2008 debut, ‘Hysterics’, introduced them to the world in a red mist of technical ferocity and chaotic violence. Since then, with every step they’ve experimented fearlessly and evolved into one of the most genre-bending, innovative underground bands in the UK.
10 years of relentless progression came to a head on the band’s last album, 2015’s ‘Grievances’, which toned down the mangled math and intensified the dynamic interplay between shade and light – a trick they’d perfected on pivotal third album ‘Astraea’. New album ‘Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It’ builds even further on this accomplished foundation, a testament to just how far ahead of their peers – whoever the hell they are at this point – Rolo Tomassi actually are.
Whereas ‘Grievances’ was so bleak you could feel the dull ache of its bruises, ‘Time Will Die’’s increased use of light and space ensures it stands alone in an arsenal of already exceptional records. ‘Towards Dawn’ and ‘Aftermath’ make for an unexpected opening – the former is three minutes of celestial, twinkling atmospherics, the latter a bright-eyed, post-rock dreamscape that makes the most of the sweet side of Eva Spence’s Jekyll-and-Hyde vocals.
The album is at its most breathtaking in these sparse, airy stretches – especially on album highlight ‘The Hollow Hour’, which careers between an ethereal haunting atmosphere and nightmarish tones – but even the heavier moments take place in cathedral-sized spaces. Doomy lead single ‘Rituals’ is a frenetic bout of aggression and sinuous time signatures, backlit by foreboding ambience and Eva’s guttural, throat-scorching roar. And there are few bands out there who could pull off the anxiety-ridden ‘Balancing The Dark’, which blows humanity’s innermost fears up to titanic proportions. This is easily their most expansive work yet – a continued exploration of the beauty in brutality.
Words: Dannii Leivers