Rosetta - A Determinism of Morality (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


A Determinism of Morality (2010)

Translation Loss

Rosetta have never been a band to do things simply. Their first full-length was a well-received double-disc effort with both CDs intended to be played simultaneously (in the vein of the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka). A collaboration/split with the like-minded but more Converge-leaning Balboa dubbed Project Mercury would follow, and the next LP, Wake/Lift, would open with a 12-minute song. So it's a bit of a pleasant jolt when frontman Michael Armine's scorching bellow and mammoth, soaring guitars initiates their stunningly crushing and thorough new album, A Determinism of Morality, just 10 short seconds into opener "Ayil." It's fucking flooring, in fact.

Granted, Morality is not a far cry from what Rosetta has been playing since 2003: spacey and swirling, yet heavy-as-hell post-metal following Neurosis' and Isis' lead. Think a less sludgier Buried Inside, or Red Sparowes with serious balls. But something about Morality is far more immediate, realized, and in a strange way, stripped down. "Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin" is perfectly fine with needling about atmospheric guitar pedals for six minutes, Armine's consistently fierce scowl punctuating all above it; you think it's some sort of incredibly expansive climax, but, spoiler alert: shit really goes off in the last minute or so.

A bit of indeterminate, hushed spoken word permeates the beginning of the more evasive, moody "Blue Day for Croatoa," and it makes it easy to draw comparisons to Envy's recent period. But the track finds its own way when Rosetta start to guide it with fuzzy, splashy percussion and lilting, typically ominous patterns--it might not hit the maximum crescendo a listener would want, but its follower "Release" makes up for it by coming right out of the gate in that epically intense fashion the band have seemed to hone so well on this record. And it even adds the type of clean, higher-pitched singing you'd expect from a melodic metalcore band--within this context, though, it adds a sudden and rather striking bit of textural dynamism to the record.

"Revolve" adds to Morality's compelling nature with minimal lyrics growled in the album's usual filter of sheer intensity and driving, brief stop-starts littered along the way. And when Armine first comes into the 11-minute closing title track? Jesus. It starts a series of absolutely throttling third or fourth beat pounds that eventually give way to a crescendo of soft percussive flourishes, layered guitars and then steady, building drumbeats for the record's predictably leviathan and bowel-loosening--yet surprisingly hooky--finish.

Something about A Determinism of Morality is certainly familiar and newly straightforward for the band conducting it, but it's done so goddamned well and and fluidly it just ropes you in from one second to the next. Way recommended.