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Rosetta - "A Determinism of Morality" (CD)

Rosetta - "A Determinism of Morality" CD cover image

"A Determinism of Morality" track listing:

1. Ayil (4:59)
2. Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin (6:49)
3. Blue Day For Croatoa (6:37)
4. Release (5:26)
5. Revolve (6:43)
6. Renew (6:09)
7. A Determinism Of Morality (10:51)

Reviewed by on July 14, 2010

"With shorter songs and a sharper focus comes an album that is the logical next step for a band that rejects trends and conventional thinking."

Ever since Isis and Neurosis formulated their own idea of what atmospheric metal should sound like, bands have been popping up like black heads on a teenager’s greasy face. The goal of reaching the same echelon as those two acts is one that has been shown to be a tough challenge. One of the few bands making some progress on that goal is Philadelphia’s Rosetta. So far, unconventional is the best way to describe the foursome since their 2005 debut, “The Galilean Satellites.” That album gained attention for being a two-disc set meant to be played simultaneously using two different audio devices; a concept that wasn’t exactly common practice in metal circles.

So after two albums that pushed forward-thinking progressiveness to the edge, how does the band push the creative bounds even further on “A Determinism of Morality?” By toning down the epic songwriting and focusing on tighter compositions, of course. Don’t take that as a sign that the band has gotten soft on us or that they aren’t as ambitious as before; this is still Rosetta we’re talking about here. With shorter songs and a sharper focus comes an album that is the logical next step for a band that rejects trends and conventional thinking.

The droning and noise-prominent sections have been toned down, reserved for select moments like the title track and “Je N'en Connais Pas la Fin.” The one constant throughout the album is the band’s ability to take a melodic passage and slowly accumulate to a heavy bout of dissonance. Each song works this in, making every minute count towards the end result. It’s a constant pleasure to hear the sudden shift from calm atmospheric guitars to a force-field of aggression. “A Determinism of Morality” really hits its stride in the middle with the pair “Release” and “Resolve.” The former showcases the clean vocal side of the band, one that isn’t utilized nearly enough.

While Rosetta has honed in their sound, there is still a tendency for the music to drag lifelessly through the empty blackness of space that the band has created. Instrumental “Blue Day For Croatoa” is a wonderful piece of ambience that sets the appropriate mood. Too bad it never really builds towards anything. It stays at one tempo for seven minutes and the band is more than content at never deviating from that tempo. It’s a nice break from the wall of noise cascading before and after the track, but as an individual song, “Blue Day For Croatoa” is hardly significant.

That one track aside, the other six tracks do a good job of squeezing all the concepts the past two albums have expressed into bite-sized pieces. Rosetta shows a lot of self-control, while still providing off-beat drum work and unpredictable structures. The title track is the only indulgent number on the album, as a catchy bass intro leads into a mini-journey of piercing guitar harmonies, a drum racket and harsh screams. This track would have been welcomed on 2007’s “Wake/Lift” with open arms.

Rosetta is one of those bands that doesn’t like to stick to the norm, embracing the more experimental side of metal. Every one of their albums has drawn attention to the band, most of it in a positive light, and “A Determinism of Morality” continues this streak. By taking a step back and tweaking their sound, the band has swerved us all for a third time. None of their albums have been predictable in the slightest bit, a sign of a true creative force at work. Even with pacing issues, Rosetta has put forth a piece of atmospheric metal that transfixes the listener into the vast depth of deep space.

Highs: Tighter compositions, brilliant contrast between atmospheric harmony and harsh dissonance, band pushes themselves creativity for a third time.

Lows: "Blue Day For Croatoa" doesn't build towards anything, and the album has pacing troubles here and there.

Bottom line: "A Determinism of Morality" is another strong album from one of the best up-and-coming atmospheric metal bands.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)