I’d like to tell you about a band called Rosetta. But before I get to their music, I’d like to make note of something else: If one wished to be despised by the members of the Philadelphia band, all one would need to do is throw around oft-used terms like “post-metal,” “trance,“ “shoe-gaze,” “drone,” “post-rock,” “ambient,” “art metal” or “avant-garde” while discussing their music. It is, admittedly, something of a cliché for a band to dislike being pigeonholed, but Rosetta have made their stance on the matter quite clear. In opposition to the music industry as a whole, they have spoken out against music criticism, and magazines that serve as tastemakers and judges of artists’ work.
So they probably won’t appreciate this article. I accept that.
Rosetta makes eloquent, textured metal of a distinctly thoughtful quality. The band is fascinated by astronomy and space travel, and they aren’t kidding when they dub their work “metal for astronauts” — they literally mean for their music to be appreciated by people who have left the Earth, physically or metaphysically. And their name does not refer to the obvious source — the Rosetta stone of ancient Egypt — but in fact references the Latin name of a nebula located in the Monoceros constellation.
The group’s music is marked by the anguished, screaming vocals of Michael Armine and bursts of monstrous guitar work by J. Matthew Weed. Their debut album The Galilean Satellites, released on the Pennsylvania label Translation Loss in 2005, is a mammoth two-disc piece of interactive sonic art. The first disc is louder and more metal-oriented, the second is somber and amorphously — dare I say it — ambient in nature. Put them in two stereos and synchronize the discs: that’s the album as it is intended to be heard.
In closing, you should go see Rosetta play their music. They are a good band. I sincerely hope that this article is not too blatantly representative of the exploitative, sneering monopoly that is music criticism as a whole.