Album Review: Rosetta – “Quintessential Ephemera”

Quintessential Ephemera

A little history: five years ago, Philly’s Rosetta released arguably one of the best post-metal albums ever with A Determinism of Morality. Considering the recent demise of Isis (the band, of course), Rosetta were seen as the new torch-bearers for this micro-genre. Combining celestial music with the pained screaming of Michael Armine, the album was a delight; it showcased how wonderfully beautiful heavy music can be. Fast forward to 2013, and Rosetta seemed to drop the torch, with the follow up The Anaesthete. That album was extremely dark and seemed to miss the mark, especially compared to the heights we knew Rosetta was capable of (to be fair, it’s not a bad album, per se). Thus, most seemed to forget about Philly’s finest. Well, the band seemed to understand it’s error, as Quintessential Ephemera is not only a return to form; it’s a solidification of the band’s place in metal. Rosetta truly understand the perfect balance between crushingly heavy and hauntingly beautiful.

The album’s interesting title means “essential things that are enjoyed for a short time”, serving as a poignant discussion of our reliance on technology. Even more interestingly, this focus on what’s fleeting versus important has helped Rosetta hone in on what makes it tick so well. Clean vocals are brought into the fold here, but they work very well, only adding to the weight of the music, instead of coming across as a means of pandering or selling out. Nothing about the album feels like a selling out, unless you think a band returning to do what it does best is a problem for you. The album is a harrowing listen, meeting at the intersection of hardcore intensity, sludge riffery, and post-rock’s sense of scope. What makes (and has made) Rosetta so endearingly awesome isn’t that they do anything particularly new or inventive. It’s that they take the existing post-metal formula and elevate it. At their best, Rosetta is a band whose music evokes a heavy metal astronaut’s trip through space, and that celestial beauty is on full display here as well. Quintessential Ephemera is mostly (sorry) quintessential post-metal, evoking the wonder of perfectly composed music and the chaos and ethos of devastatingly heavy hardcore and metal. It’s a fantastic return to form for a once forgotten band. (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase Quintessential Ephemera here.

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