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cp5c OK, so this is kind of a dual post. First and foremost to inform anyone who visits Suds about the awesomely talented Rolo Tomassi, and secondly (more importantly) to review their second album: Cosmology.

Having been active in some way or another for close to 5 years now, these guys have built up a solid fanbase and live reputation in the UK, famous particularly for their jarring, synth-infused rhythms and frontwoman Eva Spence’s ferocious roar. They’ve been tearing up venues up and down the country, including high-profile support slots with The Dillinger Escape Plan and slots at the big summer festivals. A worthy live reputation causes problems for a lot of bands. The main issue being the difficulty of capturing the raw passion of a live performance on record. Rolo Tomassi, however, have no such issues.

Their spazzed-out tech-metal meets dance sound is perfectly captured on Cosmology,  which is a real relief considering just how easy it is to lose individual instruments and subtle arrangements amongst such a racket. Effortlessly switching back and forth from pummelling brutality to dreamy soundscapes,  Rolo clearly have the musical tightrope walking down. The beauty of title track/closer ‘Cosmology’ sits easily alongside the discomforting lurch of ‘French Motel’, and both are high-points. Lead-off single ‘Party Wounds’ is an absolute killer, displaying the prodigious vocal talents of Eva Spence, who straddles the line between angelic choir soprano and feral beast with a confidence rarely seen in metal music. When you throw in the fact that she’s barely out of her teens, it’s quite a remarkable performance. Throw in brother James’s yelping, and it makes for a fine dual-delivery that gives the album’s heavier moments real variety.

As is the case with some of the more experimental works of art, Cosmology  is at times a hit-and-miss affair. ‘French Motel’ is an impressive piece of music, but it manages to display both the strength and weakness of the band’s approach. One section sees the most unusual use of the synth amongst a discordant mess that really doesn’t add to proceedings – an example of how difficult Rolo can be to listen to at times – but that section precedes the brilliant use of the synth to emphasise the heavy riffs with a distorted effect, which absolutely pummels the ears. In fairness, those wrong turns are very few and far between. Rolo have polished their sound, focused their efforts, and produced an album which is a real step-up from mental debut ‘Hysterics’.

If you like your music difficult, dense and experimental, then this group of Sheffield youngsters will be right up your street. If you’re into hooks and melodies, steer clear if you don’t fancy a challenge. I like my music either way, and I enjoyed this album. Recommended.