The Return Of Rosetta Stone

When I started my Goth phase in the early ’90s — to be honest, it never went away — I absorbed as much music as I could across a wide range of subgenres. I soon discovered one of my favorite Goth albums of all time, Adrenaline by Rosetta Stone. I would later learn that it was not an official UK release but a US-only compilation of various singles (some different than the originals) released by the British group. But it didn’t matter to me. I was smitten with that collection and continue to listen to it regularly to this day. While some people accused the band of ripping off Sisters of Mercy, I actually thought of more it as a collision of Sisters of Mercy with Judas Priest. They gave old-school goth rock a heavy kick in the ass and with better songwriting chops than the Sisters (who I also enjoy). The dramatic, high-energy anthem “Sense of Purpose” is one of the greatest Goth songs ever recorded.

Now, nineteen years since their last release (an electro-driven tribute album to ’80s pop and rock tunes called Unerotica), bandleader Porl King has returned with a new album entitled Seems Like Forever, which comes out May 17 through Cleopatra Records. As I have learned, these are re-recorded Miserylab tracks from the last 15 years. (Miserylab being King’s post-Rosetta band.) Upon first listen to tracks like “Making A Bomb” and “Children of the Poor,” this is very much a classic ’80s post-punk/early Goth sound that is less heavy than Adrenaline and less electronic than The Tyranny of Inaction. It is melodic and catchy and likely to appeal to fans of earlier Rosetta Stone. You can listen to and watch the video for the first track “Tomorrow For Us” below. It is well-timed given the resurgent interest in ’80s music across the board. Hopefully, I’ll find out soon why these tunes were re-recorded under the Rosetta Stone banner — perhaps they might reach a wider audience that way?

Rosetta Stone was actually formed in the UK in the mid-1980s, and by the ’90s they started releasing albums that made an impact on the scene internationally, including An Eye For The Main Chance, The Tyranny of Inaction, and Chemical Emissions. The group’s core members were King on vocals/guitar/keyboards, Karl North on bass, and a Casio drum machine they called Madame Razor. (Porl Young played guitar with them between 1991 and 1993. You can see him in promo pics and live clips.) Their sound went more electronic as time went on, notably with a Nine Inch Nails vibe on Tyranny, and they produced some cool tunes. However, I will always be enamored by the songs on Adrenaline. (The expanded two-disc edition is available via streaming.) It should be noted that following the disbanding of Rosetta Stone at the dawn of the new millennium, King continued making music under the name Miserylab, while North went on to join long-running Scottish band Dream Disciples.

Rosetta Stone promo pic from the early ’90s.

I’m excited that Rosetta Stone has come back, even if it’s not exactly new stuff (but new to me). Hopefully, that means there’ll be some live dates in the future. King reportedly has social anxiety which has kept him from touring, but fingers crossed anyway. Despite being a regular club staple in the UK throughout the ’90s, the group only toured the US prior to the release of Tyranny, which was documented in the ’90s alternative music fanzine B-Side. That tour included Faith & The Muse, Das Ich, and Corpus Delecti, all prominent groups of the time. I’m hoping to chat with Porl King in the not-too-distant future for a story I’m working on. In the meantime, check out the new song above as well as older tracks and a live concert from 1990 below.

One Response

  1. Nica Breeze

    Thank you for the article and great selection of videos! I, too, hope that Mr. King might grace us with live presence. Best, N.B.


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