LIVE: Rolo Tomassi / Palm Reader / Cryptodira @ The Deaf Institute, Manchester

By Liam Knowles

Rolo Tomassi must be feeling pretty damn smug right now. They’re just back from a successful run of European shows, all five of their UK headline shows are advance sell-outs, and their latest album ‘Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It’ is already being named Album Of The Year by many despite it only being released in March. There are few more exciting bands in the UK at the moment, and there’s an undeniable buzz in The Deaf Institute tonight reflecting that.

First up, New York post-tech-death quartet Cryptodira get the crowd well and truly warmed up with their huge, richly textured sound, which is reminiscent of Between The Buried & Me blended with Mastodon. The twin guitarists trade contrasting vocals over unnatural time signatures and somehow make it look easy, whilst the impossibly precise rhythm section keeps everything locked in place. This may be the band’s first trip to Europe and the UK, but there’s no doubt after tonight’s performance that they’d be welcomed back with open arms.

Main support Palm Reader have been one of the darlings of the UK underground scene for a fair few years now, and with the release of the astonishingly good ‘Braille’, they seem destined to ride a wave of their own energy right to the top of the pile. Their set tonight is electric, with older cuts like ‘I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue’, ‘Stacks’ and ‘Always Darkest’ getting the eager crowd moving and screaming along. It’s great to her this familiar material, but the new album tracks really are head and shoulders above the rest. ‘Swarm’, ‘In Waves’ and ‘Internal Winter’ showcase the band at their most dynamic, mixing Dillinger Escape Plan-level intensity with angular post-hardcore in the vein of Glassjaw, whilst always maintaining a very British punk-rock snarl. Vocalist Josh McKeown has always had a solid screaming voice, but tonight his clean vocals are just as impressive and his range adds another layer to an already expertly-executed sound. Calling it now; Palm Reader will be headlining venues of this size before long, and probably selling them out too.

Rolo Tomassi tease the audience with soft synths and flashing lights before eventually taking to the stage to rapturous applause and launching straight into ‘Aftermath’. The sound is enormous but remains crystal clear as captivating vocalist Eva Spence cavorts round the stage delivering a flawless vocal performance. Just as it does on the album, the uplifting and melodic ‘Aftermath’ lulls the crowd into a false sense of security before the crushing riffs and punishing blastbeats of ‘Rituals’. Eva switches seamlessly from her harmonious singing to an otherworldly growl, causing the crowd to erupt as they’re pummelled by the unfeasibly tight aural barrage coming from the stage. Rolo Tomassi really are next level musicians, each one of them perfectly suited to their role in this band, executing every note perfectly whilst never losing their sense of urgency and energy. This energy is maintained by both the band and the audience throughout the set, which is mostly made up of tracks from this year’s ‘Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It.’ Much like Palm Reader, Rolo Tomassi have just crafted the best album of their career and tracks like the overwhelmingly powerful ‘A Flood Of Light’ and the hypnotic, spellbinding charm of ‘Contretemps’ stand a mile over their (still excellent) older material. That said, ‘Funereal’ and ‘Stage Knives’ are welcome additions to the set, as is the much-demanded encore of ‘Illuminare’ from 2012’s ‘Astraea’.

No disrespect to Cryptodira, as they really were excellent, but their set aside tonight felt extra special because it felt like a glimpse into the future of British heavy music. Both Palm Reader and Rolo Tomassi are currently at the absolute top of their game  and they’ve both got there on an unwavering combination of pure talent and hard fucking work. There’s no limit to what either band could achieve if they maintain their current trajectory, which is currently pointing straight up.