Despite having lost their guitarist and songwriter between albums, Astraea is Rolo Tomassi’s most coherent offering yet. From sinister, brooding opener Howl, through the spooky keyboards and Eva Spence’s violent vocals in Ex Luna Scientia, and the fretboard-fuelled hardcore fury of Remancer to the controlled crescendo and groove of Empiresk, this third full-length is the album Rolo Tomassi have always threatened to make.
Even though they’re respected and well connected within the British hardcore and metal community, the band don’t pull in any favours. With sibling duo Eva and James Spence already the fulcrum of the band, the only cameos are from family, with their little sister supplying backing vocals on grandiose closing track Illuminaire. This is their most concise and best-realised album closer. The song grows, flows and repeats on itself over its seven minutes, building into a beautifully melodic, spacious ending.
If justice was served, an album as thoughtful, experimental and accomplished as Astraea would be the benchmark for all music. As it is, Rolo Tomassi will have to settle for absolutely being the best among their peers. Take note, rest of the world.