ROMASA – Insufferable Cave of Rotting Aspiration (2020)REVIEW

Romasa aka R.O.M.A.S.A. aka Ritual Onslaught Mastery Agonizing Suffering Association aka Reality Obscures Manic Assessment Sickening Action could be described as a death metal influenced sludge metal trio with consistent roots in slow-churned or extreme metallic crust variations. Although there is no major shortage of sludge-attuned hardcore punk variations today this particular marriage of metalpunk intensity with an “outsider” viewpoint on extreme metal makes for an inspired if not occasionally memorable experience, brief as it may be this time around. As one sits with the ~20 minute spin of ‘Insufferable Cave of Rotting Aspiration‘ it becomes more clear how inevitable Romasa‘s sound is considering their associated projects (Ossacrux, Witch Burial, Final Weapon, et al.) wherein metal and crust have regularly met in reasonable harmony thus far. I say “inevitable” because what lands (most of it does) and what doesn’t isn’t necessarily dictated by any profoundly focused intention.

To follow a well-received debut full-length (‘Cheering Death‘, 2019) with something more brash and angular is perfectly defiant in nature yet cutting through the noise and hammering out a couple of big sluggers on this EP also means we’ve lost some of the more gently lain points of form-fusion of that debut. ‘Insufferable Cave of Rotting Aspiration’ wastes little time getting right to the point: A set of bigger riffs, bigger songs, and some trademark noise modulation. The modulation in question being a nearly six minute knob-twister (“Loosen Untie Solve”) not unlike what you’d find on Final Weapon‘s tape, albeit in more succinct form. The potential appeal of this EP over the LP is its expansion away from d-beat inflated structures and this means we’re not just getting a psychedelic death metal production for a metallic hardcore sound but something closer to sludge/death metal hybridization. This should appeal to folks interested in bands like Tithe where a dose of LSD helps to smooth over any transitions from one sub-genre to another.

“Formulaic Decay” is more or less the payoff for the conglomeration of forms that make up Romasa‘s sound. At the center of this vortex is effects-garbled doom metal riff which actually develops some neatly affixed detail before the band almost self-consciously grind back to their hardcore/death metal hammer. At its core this is a riff from ‘Heartwork’ slowed and sauced with a couple of digital effects but Romasa make the moment their own. The title track does something similarly simple in building a song from what is essentially a transitional riff from ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh’ and making menacing sludge of it. Sure, as a die-hard death metal fan this is a rudimentary showing but when taken in the context of sludge metal it is exactly the sort of thing that appreciates with time and helps to make this release memorable. The tension of riff it alternates with doesn’t grip me but some play with tempo and the beat itself help to emphasize the very direct corridor of sound created by the focus on that main riff. Again, as death metal it doesn’t cut it for me but for an extreme psychedelic version of sludge metal it ends up being a solid cut.

Gripes, if any? On the previous recording I’d found the Audiosiege touch far more effective as much as I appreciate the death metal apropos treatment here via Enormous Door. The differences in render are subtle but ultimately the drums need to sock it a bit harder or the psychedelic head-squash of the guitars needs to go far more wild to remain distinctive at present levels. All performances are warm to the touch and cleanly audible just lacking some “extreme” framing. The theme of the EP, which must be loose in interpretation intends a “foray into the nihilistic tendencies inherent in humanity and the planned obsolescence of the very world we inhabit.” Now this is not necessarily what I’d taken from the venture but I understand that nihilism is a sort of glue that purposefully bridges several generations of metalpunk converts and true extreme metal deviants. What interests me is the planned obsolescence in question, this is a fine detail worthy of expanding and just a hint of deeper mental wilderness that could prove fruitfully explored.

For a band that’d formed in 2017 who’d now cross the threshold with two impressive and professional releases no doubt Romasa are onto something. Though I enjoyed sitting with this EP it does feel formative of bigger notions, the sense that there are larger and more complete guitar performances in mind or, on the way, kept me from being satisfied entirely. I’ll remain optimistic for what they’ll unearth next. Moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (70/100)

Rating: 7 out of 10.
TITLE:Insufferable Cave of Rotting Aspiration
LABEL(S):Hand of Death Records
RELEASE DATE:October 30th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Sludge Metal,

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