by Josh White
Bristol has an underground scene that seems to be having its own resurgence, a new renaissance. Tonight, Rolo Tomassi add their name to a growing list of acts that are inspiring a new generation of musicians in the city to pick up an instrument and make their mark. Hot off the heels of just releasing their fifth full-length studio album ‘Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It’ – Rolo show no signs of slowing down in a career that now spans over the course of a decade, keeping true to their mantra of hard work equalling just results.
A sell-out crowd at The Exchange turned out early to ensure this was a night to remember.
Opening the night is Long Island, New York natives Cryptodira, marking their first tour on these shores. Every song comes with a seemingly Devil Sold His Soul esque level of raw emotion, thunderous vocals from Scott Acquavella ready to strike – a comparison surely to be incredibly proud of. Angst isn’t a word that I’d commonly use, but it’s clear to hear the struggles they’ve had to overcome in the material they’ve written. Having signed with the internationally acclaimed Good Fight Music, the future seems to be bright for the young four piece.
Next up is Palm Reader, having just released their third studio album ‘Braille’ through independent label Silent Cult Records the very same day. Top tip. Listen to it. As expected, Surrey’s finest five piece get straight to business. An absence of Dan Olds on the kit has no ill effect, his stand in Peter Bunting more than earning the spot. Josh Mckeown takes to the mic like a fish to water, turning the stage into a sweaty mess. ‘Always Darkest’ slays, a throw back to the days of early Palm Reader – subtle yet profound influence from the likes of Norma Jean and The Chariot clearly alive and well, testing the PA to it’s very limits. ‘Swarm’ is unrelenting, Josh coming through with stunning clean vocals for the chorus.
If it wasn’t good enough at this point, kudos to bassist Josh Redrup for donning a Bullet Club t-shirt – too sweet me good brother!
‘By The Ground We’re Defined’ continues the trend, a wonderful bridge leading to a crescendo of pure, hate filled jest. The set ends in utter chaos as the floor opens up, bodies thrown from side to side, every member shedding blood, sweat and tears like it’s their last. Palm Reader are the absolute f*cking boys, and they’re not going anywhere. 2018 is the year of the Reader, bet the house on it.
And now for the main event of the evening as the lights go low, the crowd raucous with anticipation of what awaits; the one and only Rolo Tomassi. Neon lights flood the room as one by one all members of the band take to the stage, with Eva Spence emerging from the darkness to welcome us to tonight’s festivities, taking to the mic. In a scene largely dominated by male vocalists, Eva is living proof that women have a place in the elite of the scene, screaming her heart out to a point that would make Jacob Bannon of Converge shake in his boots.
Rolo are the kind of band that deserve far more than the 250 faithful crammed in tonight, and as always they’re out to make that statement heard. ‘Rituals’ brings the Exchange to its knees, rocking the very foundations it’s built on. ‘Ex Luna Scientia’ is no different, ploughing through the room like an army hellbent on destruction. A moment of respite is met with equal chaos as Rolo melt into ‘Funereal’, upping the energy once more (if it was even possible at this point). ‘A Flood Of Light’ taken from the bands fifth full length album released on Holy Roar Records ‘Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It’, is proceeded by some mesmerising synth work from James Spence.
A break in the madness ensued comes in the form of a haunting bridge, proving their worth not only as directors of chaos, but masters of their work. ‘Whispers Among Us’ is next, slowing the pace to a headbangers paradise, each strike of the snare biting at the air, Eva in an almost trance like stance as she sways from side to side, owning every last inch of the stage, making it her canvas for the night. ‘Stage Knives’, ‘Contretemps’ and ‘Opalesant’ are all met with the room imploding, chants of ‘Rolo, Rolo, Rolo’ ringing out. The set ‘ends’ with ‘Balancing the Dark’, a requiem of noise met with the precision of Chris Cayford on guitar.
As they leave the stage, chants for one more song gain traction, returning for one more outing with the almighty ‘Illuminaire’.
The Exchange and Bristol in kind have taken a mighty beating tonight, but it’s one we’d gladly take again. Take a bow, Rolo.
Joshua White – Vulturehound Magazine 2018.
Cryptodira / Palm Reader photos courtesy of Joshua Clarke Photography, Rolo Tomassi photos courtesy of Ellie Mitchell Photography.