Florida instrumentalists Set and Setting return with a yet another colossal and dynamic release in the form of Tabula Rasa.
Following hot on the heels of its well-received 2017 predecessor, Reflectionless, Tabula Rasa sees Set and Setting continuing to push their sound into heavier and heavier territory. Much like Reflectionless, Tabula Rasa showcases a greater emphasis on the band’s more metal and punk influences while retaining the cinematic grandeur of their “post-rock” roots. The album’s relatively short 39-minute runtime and shorter song lengths prove to be advantageous as the band pack a concise punch with each composition. The album knows when to be straightforward and knows when to be complex. It knows when dazzle and it knows when to destroy.
After the icy clean guitars of “Circling Doldrums” fade into the ether, the album officially kicks into high gear as “Revisions Through…” comes stampeding in. The short, blistering track hits hard and fast and sets the tone for the record to come. The guitars continually cycle between bulldozing dissonant riffs, razor-sharp tremolo picking, and downtrodden sludge as the song rushes toward the end with furious drumming raging underneath. Brutal, heavy riff-driven assaults are found throughout this record, but seem to be the focal point of this track and also thrive within the galloping, landslide-inducing sludge of “…The Black Swan” and the cacophonous black metal bursts of “Desolate Waves Confine…”.
“Ecdysis” stays true to its name as it frequently sheds its skin to reveal new sonic shapes throughout its seven-minute runtime. Dissonant lurches become towering grooves. Post-black metal stampedes become dreamlike passages. The song just unabashedly shapeshifts throughout and each transition proves to be more unexpected than the last. More jarring shapeshifting can be found in the album’s closing number, “…Wandering Tribulation”. The song in question begins with somber guitar riffs accompanied by fiery, soulful leads before subjecting the listener to a powerful beating of dissonant, sludgy grooves. The song’s climax conceives a hybrid of these two extremes, one of thick metallic riffs and a triumphant sense of melody that brings the album in to an epic conclusion.
Tabula Rasa features some of Set and Setting‘s heaviest songwriting to date, not to mention some of their most intricate and economical. “Post-metal” and “post-rock” will always be the first terms used to describe these Floridians, but time and time again they prove that they have transcended those labels.
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Label: Pelagic Records
Favorite Tracks: “…Perennial Longing”, “Ecdysis”, “…The Black Swan”, “…Wandering Tribulation”
For Fans Of: If These Trees Could Talk, Rosetta, Pelican, pg.lost, and The Ocean