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Reviews
Rome - Nera
Friday, December 15 2006 @ 01:00 AM PST
Contributed by: isis

Nera

Artist: Rome Luxembourg

Title: Nera

Label: Cold Meat Industry Sweden

Genre: Experimental / Neofolk / Dark Pop

01 Der Zeitsturm (1:46)
02 A Burden Of Flowers (3:04)
03 Reversion (4:41)
04 A La Faveur De La Nuit (4:58)
05 Das Unbedingte (4:17)
06 Rape Blossoms (1:50)
07 Beasts Of Prey (3:54)
08 The Blade Unmasked (2:48)
09 Hope Dies Painless (6:08)
10 Nera (2:04)
11 Birds Of Prey (4:35)
12 Les Hirondelles (4:27)

Cold Meat Industry has waited till the end of the year to offer us one of the best releases of 2006. Jerome Reuter's solo project, Rome, with its first long player. This young artist from Luxembourg has long been in the music world. Starting in punk bands, he moved on to rock with great baselines (references he does not speak about but are easily found in the Internet). However, working with other people may limit creativity and that is what happened to Jerome. When he decided to form Rome, a word that comes from a shortening of his own name, his knew one main thing: he would work alone.

Rome is the future of the neo-folk world. It does not fall into the same four chords played with the guitar in a 'wanting to live up to Death in June' sound. And it moves enough into post-industrialism to be called experimental and to be misunderstood. This fresh combination of sounds: great guitar work, martial percussion, pop melodies and dark crooning, capture the listener and transport them into a different world. On occasions, the guitar sounds are so full of beauty and longing they almost hurt to listen to. It opens the more guitar-oriented songs a possibility of jumping into the indie world -and that, perhaps, offends some more traditional dark folk followers. On the other hand, there are many compositions that are constructed only over ritual and repetitive percussion, moving the songs deeper into desperation and darkness. Some of the songs even move closer to dark wave than to neofolk though the combination of guitars and synthesisers. I am not saying this has not been done before; it has simply not been done with such delicacy and mastery in a long time.

'A burden of flowers' introduces the martial beats that slide through all the songs of the record. To one extent or the other war seeps into all of the songs. Perhaps not war, but confrontation. Contradiction. A construction of a New World though its opponents. It is largely represented by bellicose notes, ritual percussion and, in 'The Blade Unmasked' a menacing tribal sound. 'A la faveur de la nuit' is also included in the new CMI compilation 'My dead friends' and is one of the, apparently, simpler songs of the record. The way the samples are threaded into the song being used just as another voice is magnificent. The vintage sound of 'Rape blossoms' takes ideas like Fire+Ice into a new dimension. Modern construction confronted with a timeless search. 'Nera' is the most epic and apocalyptic song of the record. Its mouth is full of vengeance and threat. It is brief and intense.

The more guitar-oriented songs are some of the most powerful and unexpected. For example, 'Reversion' could have been a ballad from its soft chords' beginning. But it grows in strength and passion - it stops to pick up impetus and develops into quite a vibrant song that can't shake its brooding melancholy off its bones. My personal favorite lies in 'Die Unbedingte'. Words such as 'A chest still swollen with hope' or 'are hearts are heavy, our sense of sin, from the distant, impossible past', 'the danger [...] of unconditional loyalty, of blind devotion'... wrapped in a bleeding guitar melody and a repetitive arpeggio, in which a beautiful enthralling dark synthesizer melody grows to transform a martial song into a seductive dark pop composition.

'[This is not a time for silence]
Watching from a distance the strangeness of their fate
[This is not a time for silence]
their deaths put my life to shame
[This is not a time for silence]
But we? Do we feel shame?
[This is not a time for silence]
Are we ugly with grief?'

'Beasts of Prey' is not far behind. Like a manifest of Rome's ideas, the lyrics talk about the grayness in every happening in the world. A declaration about the dull stupidity of extremes. The guitar work is superb and is, at a time, the melody and base line of the song. 'Hope dies Painless' also relies on a repetitive chord tune but it's the words and voice that hold the spotlight here. The song changes into a moan, bloodshed, pain and splendor. It walks from experimental to pop, to folk, to a solitary reciting and pleading into the vastness of the sound surrounding it. It must mean something that this is the only song that does not any sample at all.

'How love has come to pass
I glued the letter to your mouth
as treason climbed all over your face
like a kitten
yet not so playfully
do not play with me'

'Birds of Prey' has some of the most interesting guitars in the record. We are taken deeply into dark wave and dark pop of the early nineties through its references, except they are distorted, twisted and freed into a jazz-like jam creation where sounds, grunts, whimpers, noises and samples are thrown into it and torn apart. To close, 'Les Hirondelles' could be the dark version of a hymn, covered by Jerome's words.

One of the peculiarities of Rome is its polyglot nature. Not only in the titles, it falls into the lyrics and, over all, into the samples. German, Italian, French, Spanish... Europe is represented plethoric, even though English is chosen as the universal language. The other amazing feat of this record is that, not only it contains excellent songs in themselves, but it is also though out as a whole. The songs make perfect sense one after the other. The listener is swayed into one sensation into another - the introductions to the songs are connected to the ending of others.

The main drawback? Not including the lyrics in the record. What are these artists thinking? All of them should be like ORE and attach their nihilist post-modern poetry to the album, so the listeners don't have to stumble in the darkness of words they imagine they can understand. The words are like mirages in the desert: a promise of a New World. A life full of honor, trust, principles. A place where betrayal is punished and broken promises' pieces might be picked up and glued together.

Someone need to give my regards to Roger... for yet another excellent choice. For believing in the beauty of desperation and hopelessness. And for giving it to us all.

     


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