Rome - Hell Money
Neofolk To anyone who has sat in wonder through a complete playing of Rome's 2011 3CD mega album 'Die Æsthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit', the immediate question is this: how can Jerome Reuter possibly follow it with anything remotely close in scope, power or twisted beauty?

And the answer is elusive, because this is an album of stark contrasts. It's a work of fleeting glimpses of perfection, as though this master songwriter himself was an imperfect demiurge: the creator of a fragile landscape awash with frequent visions of higher art. In some places it works, in others it momentarily falls short. But it never falls far, even considering the lofty position that Rome has earned itself in the neo folk spectrum.

For those familiar with the martial folk sound that Rome has cultivated in the past, it may be at first disconcerting to have many of those elements stripped away. The result is a more straight up neo folk album that takes far more cues from simple interplays between acoustic guitar and vocals. In one sense this leaves more space for Jerome's enigmatic voice to breathe. However the flip side of this is that a number of the tracks have a tendency to grow overly ponderous in places.

The opening track, "Fester" is a shining example of the kind of acoustic power that Rome can muster. The rhythm is marked by nothing more than the dull thud of a kick drum, and yet the sound is so rounded that you'd be hard pressed to add anything meaningful to the production. The vocals set the scene for the remainder of the album, an atmosphere of disturbing tension that borders on invoking the southern gothic aesthetic :

"Here comes the chopper to chop off your head, chip-chop.
The last one is dead
O, bring hell money
To reconcile with rage you bring"

Tracks like "Rough Magic" and "Tightrope Walker (Wild Milk)" display an effortless mastery of the genre, both encompassing a trinity of accomplished songwriting, confident guitar work and vocal work with a true sense of presence.

"Red Bait" is a fragment of a song, an introspective work that invokes images of decay, as though you can feel the weathered ivory beneath your fingertips. It's haunting, disturbing and enthralling all at once. Perhaps this short track is the closest in style to 'Die Æsthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit'. It's a bleak soundscape that brings to mind wartime despair, through glitchy radio transmissions punctuated with static.

I hesitate to criticise too much about this album. In the end it is merely a matter of taste: the banjo led piece "Pornero" grated on me at first. However it is perhaps a measure of the artist's calibre that the addition of a simple atmospheric pad transforms this track into something far greater than I could have imagined. When all is said and done, for me the greatest disappointment is the intro to the album, a ritualistic chant that just seems to lack much sonic depth. But overall it is hard to fault art like this.

This is an album that takes a few listens to comprehend. I can't say whether it will grow on you or not. I score it highly because it is well made, magnificently recorded: however I can't help but feel that some will dislike it in contrast to earlier works. I do believe that it is worth an honest listen, divorced from prior conceptions of what has been and gone. It has an infectious habit of getting into one's head - in a good way, I hope.
4
Brutal Resonance

Rome - Hell Money

8.0
"Great"
N/A
Electroracle
Spotify
Released 2012 by Trisol Music Group
To anyone who has sat in wonder through a complete playing of Rome's 2011 3CD mega album 'Die Æsthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit', the immediate question is this: how can Jerome Reuter possibly follow it with anything remotely close in scope, power or twisted beauty?

And the answer is elusive, because this is an album of stark contrasts. It's a work of fleeting glimpses of perfection, as though this master songwriter himself was an imperfect demiurge: the creator of a fragile landscape awash with frequent visions of higher art. In some places it works, in others it momentarily falls short. But it never falls far, even considering the lofty position that Rome has earned itself in the neo folk spectrum.

For those familiar with the martial folk sound that Rome has cultivated in the past, it may be at first disconcerting to have many of those elements stripped away. The result is a more straight up neo folk album that takes far more cues from simple interplays between acoustic guitar and vocals. In one sense this leaves more space for Jerome's enigmatic voice to breathe. However the flip side of this is that a number of the tracks have a tendency to grow overly ponderous in places.

The opening track, "Fester" is a shining example of the kind of acoustic power that Rome can muster. The rhythm is marked by nothing more than the dull thud of a kick drum, and yet the sound is so rounded that you'd be hard pressed to add anything meaningful to the production. The vocals set the scene for the remainder of the album, an atmosphere of disturbing tension that borders on invoking the southern gothic aesthetic :

"Here comes the chopper to chop off your head, chip-chop.
The last one is dead
O, bring hell money
To reconcile with rage you bring"

Tracks like "Rough Magic" and "Tightrope Walker (Wild Milk)" display an effortless mastery of the genre, both encompassing a trinity of accomplished songwriting, confident guitar work and vocal work with a true sense of presence.

"Red Bait" is a fragment of a song, an introspective work that invokes images of decay, as though you can feel the weathered ivory beneath your fingertips. It's haunting, disturbing and enthralling all at once. Perhaps this short track is the closest in style to 'Die Æsthetik der Herrschaftsfreiheit'. It's a bleak soundscape that brings to mind wartime despair, through glitchy radio transmissions punctuated with static.

I hesitate to criticise too much about this album. In the end it is merely a matter of taste: the banjo led piece "Pornero" grated on me at first. However it is perhaps a measure of the artist's calibre that the addition of a simple atmospheric pad transforms this track into something far greater than I could have imagined. When all is said and done, for me the greatest disappointment is the intro to the album, a ritualistic chant that just seems to lack much sonic depth. But overall it is hard to fault art like this.

This is an album that takes a few listens to comprehend. I can't say whether it will grow on you or not. I score it highly because it is well made, magnificently recorded: however I can't help but feel that some will dislike it in contrast to earlier works. I do believe that it is worth an honest listen, divorced from prior conceptions of what has been and gone. It has an infectious habit of getting into one's head - in a good way, I hope. Mar 05 2013

Julian Nichols

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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