Reviews: Rolo Tomassi and Red Handed Denial

I stumbled upon these two bands in the span of two days, now you are lucky enough to get them at the same time!

I had some reservations about grouping these two bands into one post, since really the only thing they have in common is the presence of a female vocalist, but ultimately, I think there can be a point to it. As with any single-gender dominated field, there are two major issues: (1) Only half of the potential talent pool ever even considers taking up the task, and (2) a huge perspective gap may be missing. These two bands are taking an innovative approach to their genres, and I think that shouldn’t be overlooked. Before I walk further into a minefield, let’s get started.

Rolo Tomassi


This band popped up in my weekly Spotify playlist, and I was intrigued by the calm math-rockish sound of the featured song (“Opalescent”). I saved the band and went back to it later, and was totally confused when I started the album from the beginning. The first three songs are some pretty heavy hardcore, which seemed totally inconsistent with expectations. This band has at least two distinct faces, so only hearing one is a setup to be fooled later.

Hailing from the UK, Rolo Tomassi put out their fourth studio album, Grievances, in 2015. Where their previous album, Astrea (2012) mixed their two-faceness evenly across songs, the new release splits them apart a little more. Vocalist siblings Eva and James Spence share some of screaming duties, and it’s actually pretty difficult to tell who’s up to bat during these sections. It’s probably a little harder to mistake Eva’s excellent clean vocals on the calmer sections, where James is usually focusing on some mesmerizing keyboard and electronic bits.

There’s a heavy punk influence throughout, and experimentation galore. In the math rock sections, the drums are often doing some complex polyrhythmic work and the guitar keeps up and somehow fills the beautifully awkward gaps. Their ability to transition between these two faces and still sound like one frantic/beautiful cohesive whole is their ultimate strength. I can’t stress this enough, LISTEN TO BOTH TRACKS!!!

Red Handed Denial


I came across Red Handed Denial while skimming through my bandcamp feed, where a very unexpected Toilet veteran, Jack Bauer, recently purchased their album Wanderer. I clicked play and was immediately blown away. There’s a fair amount of prog djentyness, a dash of metalcore, and a saturation of pure-fucking-fun; three things that I find myself defending a little too often. This group from Toronto reminds me a lot of Destiny Potato, but somehow feel less like a guilty pleasure band (if such a thing exists).

Red Handed Denial released their first EP in 2009 and their first full length in 2013. With this newest release, they have taken great strides in production and memorable songwriting. Every song is catchy (well, except maybe the very pleasant guitar outro track), which leaves me wanting more after a very short album.

Vocalist Lauren Babic has a whole bunch of covers on her youtube page, covering similar bands like Protest the Hero, TesseracT, and Periphery (her cover of Rainbow Gravity is particularly stunning [save your Spencer already sounds like a girl jokes {and go fuck yourself}]).

I am curious to know why there are relatively few sections of harsh vocals on this album, considering she does it often in her covers, but it’s nice to know that it’s something that can be expanded in future albums. The rest of the band, as should be expected in this genre, are all crazy talented and are a key component of the band’s catchiness. No matter how great the vocals are, they won’t do a thing if there’s nothing behind them. Though they don’t break any barriers in the genre, they are very sharp about how to create great music within its guidelines.

I realize this is more of an introduction than an review, since I didn’t really get down and dirty with critiques, but the latest albums from both these bands get a solid 4/5 flaming toilets from me.


Follow Rolo Tomassi and Red Handed Denial on Facebook, and for the love of all that is holy, don’t be a weirdo.

Written by:

Published on: October 5, 2016

Filled Under: Reviews

Views: 509

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  • EsusMoose

    Tried getting into Rolo Tomato but opalescent and one other track were the only ones that ended up sticking with me. The bass and drums on opalescent>>>>>
    Will have to give RHD a try

    • Joaquin Stick

      Wouldn’t be surprised if Korea had tomato flavored Rolos. They have some weird conceptions of what “candy” is over there.

  • Howard Dean
  • ChuggaChuggaDeedleyDoo

    Funny how the Red Handed Denial female vocalists’s voice is largely indistinguishable from Rody Walker’s voice

    • Joaquin Stick

      From you that’s probably an insult? But you’re not wrong and I think they are both pretty dang good.

  • Joaquin Stick

    Oh yeah, RHD just started their first US tour (mostly east coast and Canada) if you wanna look that up.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
  • Waynecro

    Nice finds, JS! I think I could jam some of these tunes if I’m in the right mood–Red Handed Denial especially. But, man, Red Handed Denial sounds more than a little bit like Protest the Hero. Has anyone ever seen the two bands in the same place at the same time?

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      “Red Handed Denial sounds more than a little bit like Protest the Hero”

      Figures why I didn’t like that one.

      • Waynecro

        I actually kind of like some of Protest the Hero’s earlier albums, but I usually just listen to Mandroid Echostar, which sounds like the love child of Coheed and Cambria and Protest the Hero, instead.

        • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

          This is not really my style in general; though it’s not bad either. I mean, Protest the Hero is not a bad band either and they’re perfectly capable musicians, it’s just the style and sound that isn’t really the kind of dish Frank likes to be served at his dinner table.

          • Waynecro

            Yeah, I totally get that. I’m a sucker for weedlies and strong harmonies and melodies, so I can’t help but like aspects of Protest the Hero’s music. I’d play Protest the Hero at the dinner table but not in the gym.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Waynecro plZ!!! There’s only one band you’re allowed to play in the gym!


          • Waynecro

            plZ!!! back at you, Frank. If there can be only one, it isn’t Hatebreed for me!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            First Nails is best Nails.

          • Waynecro

            I do really like all the other Nails albums as well. You can listen to the entire discography, like, three times during a single workout.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Hahaha! True.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            i still blast hatebreed in the gym now and then, i dont think jasta could lift having only one thumb tho

        • Abradolf Lincler

          im a fairly avid supporter of Protest the Hero, moreso back in the day but i still greatly enjoy most their back catalogue

          • Waynecro

            Kezia and Fortress are pretty strong, and they sound pretty good on Gallop Meets the Earth (the live album). Definitely check out Mandroid Echostar (if you haven’t already). If you like both Coheed and Cambria and Protest the Hero, you’ll probably dig Mandroid Echostar.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            will do.

            im finally taking a rest day from the gym today. i think saturday or friday was the last one

          • Waynecro

            Nice, man. I incorporated sumo squats into my leg routine recently, and my legs are fucking killing me today. It’s really going to suck doing sprints in an hour.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            very awesome. hard to balance a bar sometimes doing those.

            i been going hard on forearms and wrists, testing my old injury. you HAVE GOT to try doing some occlusion bands at your elbows. fucking crazy ass popeye forearms

          • Waynecro

            Thanks for the tip! I definitely want to work on my forearms. My brother likes busting my stones about having better forearms than I do. His forearms for pretty fucking shredded from flipping heavy skillets in kitchens for the last 15 years.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    In terms of textures, I’m kinda reminded of Maudlin of the Well when I listened to those Rolo Tomassi tracks.

    • Obligatory motW upvote.

      • Damage_Inc89

        Hell yeah!

        • The band Hell Yeah has ruined the saying Hell Yeah. :/

          • Damage_Inc89

            [smug/aloof voice] I was saying it ironically. . . .[/smug/aloof voice]

            No I wasn’t, but if we let Hellyeah ruin “hell yeah” then we let Hellyeah win. We should keep saying it, then if anyone says “like the band?” you just stop talking to them.

  • I know I’ve heard Rolo Tomassi before, kind of odd that they keep the two styles separately. The heavier stuff sounds like newer Diilinger and they playing is on par with them too.

    • THE DEUCEMAN name-drops Dillinger… that’s quite the compliment coming from him!

      • My ears always tell me the truth.

  • [save your Spencer already sounds like a girl jokes {and go fuck yourself}]).


  • Count_Breznak

    The vocals kill it in both cases :/

  • that one female vocal thingy happened in the first Rolo Tomassi song. then other things started happening in the next song, and the female vokills were gone.
    then in another song, they came back.
    weird stuff, Joaquin. but i think it’s going to be revisited.

  • ProfoundHatred

    Kind of surprised Rolo Tomassi is new to most of ToH. If you guys enjoy them, you should check out Employed to Serve.

    • Joaquin Stick

      In my long years as a toileteer I have never seen them mentioned at least. Checking out Employed to Serve, pretty legit as well.

      • ProfoundHatred

        Now I’m curious as to how I found them, hahaha. I always assume I found things through ToH. I do a lot of band camp digging for my podcast, must have been through that at some point.

  • Ayreonaut


  • Treebeard, Father of Fangorn

    I like the entwife that lends her voice to Red Handed Denial.

  • Damage_Inc89

    Red Handed Denial seems like the kind of band I’d want to like more, but just don’t (similarly to Tesseract/Periphery, just can’t really get into ’em). Rolo Tomassi though, damn I enjoyed those tracks, especially how they suddenly turned into The Dillinger Escape Plan on Estranged. Will definitely check the rest of their shit out ASAP.