Live Review: Rolo Tomassi w/ Palm Reader and Cryptodira | The Exchange | 06/04/18

It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of Rolo Tomassi. Since their humble origins in 2005, the group have been hailed for their experimental approach to progressive music whilst smashing pre-existing stereotypes and tropes along the way. Following the release of their fantastic new album Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It (Read our 10/10 review here!) Rolo Tomassi are back for a sold out headline run accompanied by the brilliant Palm Reader and Cryptodira.

Whilst they may be on their very first adventure within our country, the New York experimental extreme metal act Cryptodira (8) perform with a level of confidence and charm that’s not typically associated with emerging acts. Opening with a short open word segment before launching headfirst into their take on sonic progressive extremism, it quickly becomes evident on why this act was selected for this opening slot. Much like tonight’s headliner, the groups’ focus is on balancing punishing aggression with more fragile, amble structures.

Pensive post-rock tinged structures, hooking groove laden riff work and sudden sporadic intensity that would even raise the eyebrows of The Dillinger Escape Plan co-exist in chaotic harmony. What’s truly commendable is how Crypodira interweave and project these elements live, creating a wall of sound that is both tight and fluid whilst being extremely technically impressive. It’s a frenzy of an intense and metallic musical experimentation that has certainly stricken a chord with those seeking progressive music at it’s most punishing and thought provoking. An electrifying set from an act we’re undoubtedly going to hear more from in these coming months.

Tonight marks a special occasion for Palm Reader (8.5) and those somehow ignorant of today’s importance are about to be educated forcibly. With today marking the release of their much anticipated third album Braille, the group waste no time premiering new material, jumping headfirst into ‘Internal Winter with feverish abandon. As the group fly though ‘Stacks’, ‘Always Darkest’ and ‘Swarm’ with blistering intensity, two things quickly become evident. Firstly, despite the notable musical contrasts between material on Braille and material from their previous works, such content interweaves staggeringly well live and perfectly exaggerates the growth of their musicianship over the years. Secondly, even for a Palm Reader show, gigs that are known for their intense energy, this performance is absolutely mental. Stark, explosive and wonderfully chaotic, the group excel in conjuring pure infectious energy in a fashion that most acts can only dream of.

As the group drop into the metalcore pound of ‘Like A Wave’ they perfectly illustrate the passion and fervent love of the craft they create that is demonstrated within Braille. As the punters gathered at the front collectively loose their shit and revel in the untapped energy being projected, Palm Reader look enterally grateful for it. This is an act who have honed their edge and craft touring the toilet circuit for many a year, slowly building their devoted fan base in the process. As the group plunge into a rapturous performance of the sporadic ‘I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue’, both tonight and Braille has shown that Palm Reader are destined for greater things.

Following the release of the fantastic Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It the anticipation for this tour has been undeniable, with every single date on this UK run sold out. Even before Rolo Tomassi (9) touch stage, there’s an air of apprehensions anticipation in the atmosphere. However, once the celestial synths of ‘Towards Dawn’ cry out such an aura becomes intoxicating. Bathed in amiable lighting, tonight’s headliners begin with a rousing yet consoling rendition of ‘Aftermath’, a track that displays the focused fragile beauty of this act in fine form. However, as displayed within Love Will Die, this track only serves a figurative calm before a storm, with the ominous strings of ‘Rituals’ threatening something far more menacing.

From here on out it’s nothing but pure bedlam, with Rolo Tomassi interweaving metallic punishment with angelic moments of majesty to conjure their unique sound in its purest form. As the group present content from their 2015 album Grievances, with ‘Funereal’ paving the way for ‘Estranged’, vocalist Eva Spence does a fantastic job of animating the groups confrontational technical prowess. Amplifying the experimental malicious menace with her bellowing howls and screams whilst enlivening the group’s distinctive elysian fragility with her carefree and elegant persona, it’s almost impossible to imagine a Rolo Tomassi show without the Spence at the helm.

As the group delve into ‘A Flood Of Light’ and ‘Whispers Among Us’, it becomes evident that one of the best elements of this show is exclusively reserved for veteran followers of this act. With these tracks balancing technical extremity with celestial harmony flawlessly, the group have utterly shed the quaint curiosities of their youth and have blossomed into something stunning and unrivalled. This tour de force of sonic bedazzlement is visually enlivened with a beautiful yet tasteful light show that the likes are atypically seen in club venues of this size. This comes into it’s own for a spellbinding performance of ‘Contretemps’, with it’s concluding keys conjuring images of early noughties Muse.

As the group conclude with a hypnotising performance of 2012’s ‘Illuminare’, with it’s wonderful crescendo being the cause of many a goosebumb, the past few months have seen Rolo Tomassi go from acclaimed underground curiosities to leaders in their respective experimental scene. With Palm Reader affirming the success of Braille and Cryptodira confirming that the future heavy progressive music is in good hands, tonight isn’t just a celebration of the success of Rolo Tomassi, but a commemoration of the virtue of heavy and contemporary alternative music.


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