01. Ayil 02. Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin 03. Blue Day for Croatoa 04. Release 05. Revolve 06. Renew 07. A Determinism of Morality2010 Translation Loss Records
Rosetta has put some excellent material to tape over the last few years. It's easy to consider their past two full-lengths to be required listening for all of those on board with the still-growing Cult of Neur-Isis movement of the last decade (and beyond), although their ambience-heavy, delay-soaked approach doesn't borrow much more than sweeping song structures from the genre's trio of major names. I'd argue that their latest release, A Determinism of Morality, is their first that truly feels the weight of the expectations that come along with being a firmly established band. And that can be tough sometimes. In that light, since the guys in Rosetta have stuck with the major elements that make up their trademark sound -- layers of warm guitars, echoes of screams, a rhythm section fond of momentarily locking into a groove at the end of a well-crafted build -- it doesn't seem that anyone is going to be let down by these seven tracks. Furthermore, there are subtle, masterful touches that didn't show up on The Galilean Satellites or Wake/Lift. "Ayil" offers a feedback- and noise-laden breakdown that proves to be the bands heaviest recorded moment. It also sounds nearly identical to Coalesce (a comparison furthered, of course, by the likeness in vocals to those of Sean Ingram), but that's certainly a good thing. "Blue Day for Croatoa" is the record's instrumental track, but it leans less on delay-heavy guitars in favor of a more straightforward, cleaner progression that is reminiscent of Tarentel. "Revolve" has some cleverly syncopated one-string guitar riffs near its close as well as the tasteful addition of gang-vocals to add an extra dimension to Michael Armine's almost omnipresent scream. On that note, "Release" also ventures into more adventurous vocals territory, only this time with clean singing and mixed results. With most of the instrumentation and Armine's screams being coated in a layer of ambience and delay, the singing's high and bright presence in the mix is almost blinding. I like the idea, but its inclusion could have been a little more organic. As much as I like some of the smaller additions on A Determinism of Morality, I can't get past the fact that it's just not sufficiently different to instill excitement. The shift between The Galilean Satellites and its abundance of traditional metallic riffing to Wake/Lift and its more expansive songwriting approach was noticeable and very respectable. However, A Determinism of Morality just feels like a lateral step -- competent and enjoyable, but very safe. Again, previous fans of Rosetta aren't likely to be let down -- the band is too well-oiled to release a musically poor record -- but the likelihood that this goes down in history as a "mind-blowing" album is pretty small. Bottom Line: Rosetta's A Determinism of Morality maintains the same level of musicianship and mastery of ambient metal that the band set with The Galilean Satellites and Wake/Lift. Yet, even with the inclusion of a few clever songwriting touches (gang vocals, clean singing, brief periods of previously unused guitar work), the release is lacking a defining direction that it needs. It's also possible that my overexposure to this type of music leaves me more critical than most. Either way, it's still a good record, and proof that Rosetta still rightfully owns their niche in the atmospheric metal world.