Rolo Tomassi – Hysterics

Rolo Tomassi – Hysterics – 3.5/5

Ok, So I lied about finishing my non-metal stint. But these guys are worth mentioning.

I first saw them last weekend supporting Behold the Arctopus and Genghis Tron, and my reaction to a group of kids who didn’t look old enough to have pubic hair was along the lines of “Roadies sure are getting younger,” but alas, this was the band. Playing an odd combination of synth-heavy technical hardcore with jazzy breakdowns, to call these anything but unique would be an understatement. Quite frankly, there’s little I’ve heard that really compares in terms of sound. Like a crazy lovechild between the older Dillinger Escape Plan, Genghis Tron with To-Mera style jazz ‘breakdowns’ this doesn’t sound like it could ever work. But somehow amidst the chaos, comes a catchy tune, proving once again a standard 4/4 beat structure isn’t required to make memorable music.

Opening with a minute of odd electro static, progressing into soft vocals (both male and female) with a steady bass line, this is very much ‘the calm before the storm’ and doesn’t really represent what the band has to offer. In all fairness, its not until the last 30 seconds that anything really happens. And even then it’s a bit of repetitive screaming over a unenthused guitar riff. But move beyond the horrendous intro and we find ourselves presented with one of the best technical riffs on the album that remains catchy, whilst adding layers of hardcore vocals, mixed with slower sections with a soft choral style of singing. I could go on describing the song, but I’d never cover it all concisely, this gives an idea of what to expect. (I plan to upload one of the tracks, as this will give a better idea of their sound than I could ever state in writing).

The drumming is fairly basic, but manages to keep the rhythm of the inter-changing sections wonderfully, and serves as a decent backbone structure for the pace of the song at various times. The guitars again aren’t anything special, but create some incredibly catchy riffs, the bass doing a lot more of the setting the tone for the section, with the guitars adding the aggression or jazz stylings, and the synths aren’t overdone. They’re present, but not dominant. Much like a keyboard can add a layer of atmosphere, they often to a similar job.

And now onto the vocals, which are something of a mixed bag. The male vocals are rarely utilised, which is not a bad thing as they tend to be fairly bland, and the female vocals often seem fairly artificially produced. There’s little character to them, little individuality. Standard synthesised choral work, and the hardcore vocals whilst impressive considering the source (a delightful 5ft4-ish blonde girl) often feel monotonous and void of emotion. But despite this, there are odd glimmers of a unique style emerging (Most of Fantasia for example).

Don’t forget the youth of the band. Their abilities as musicians are hampered by lack of experience and technical prowess, but they’ve succeeded in diving in at the deep end, producing not only an album approaching as technical as you’re likely to find, but creating their own style within a dying genre, and not doing a bad job of it, its bizarre nature keeps things interesting through repeated listenings, and is not something that bores me quickly. This album is by no means a masterpiece, but perhaps this is a band we should watch out for.

Highlights: I love Turbulence, Scabs, Fantasia

By T. Bawden

P.S. Im finished on non-metal for now. I swear >.<