Album ReviewsReviews

Review: Rome - Berlin (2006)

artist: Rome
release: Ber­lin
format: CD
year of release: 2006
label: Cold Meat Industry
dur­a­tion: 17:44

Ber­lin is the debut EP of the by now already pretty well known Rome, the neofolk/martial pro­ject of Lux­em­burgian Jérôme Reu­ter. A pleas­ant sur­prise within the scene, because many artists who make good and innov­at­ive music already have a long track record, which has made some listen­ers won­der if there is still room for innov­a­tion in the genre. Rome gives a pos­it­ive answer to this ques­tion with this highly prom­ising debut.

Ber­lin con­tains six tracks of calm, but also sad and reflect­ive music, blen­ded with mar­tial-like influ­ences. This short release starts with “Like Lov­ers”, an omin­ous track with the calm, pleas­ant voice of Reu­ter, mil­it­ar­istic per­cus­sion, effects and samples (among oth­ers of ‘Hitler’ from the film Rise of Evil). The next song is my per­sonal favour­ite, along with the final track, to which I shall return. On “The Orch­ards” we hear a relaxed, catchy gui­tar melody and per­cus­sion, sup­ple­men­ted by vocals and samples. The same laid back atmo­sphere returns in “Une Autre Vis­ion”, this time without gui­tar, but with piano, and again the char­ac­ter­istic vocals and samples. It’s songs like this that make Rome such a unique and innov­at­ive pro­ject. The tracks are built up to really be ‘songs’, with a start and a fin­ish, not sound­scapes or abstract atmo­spheres, which one hears so often in mar­tial or elec­tronic pro­jects. Neither does it have that much of a ‘tough sol­dier boy’ factor as a lot of mar­tial. But, it’s also not really com­par­able to gui­tar-based neo­folk as we know it from bands like For­seti and Sonne Hagal. I can best describe this sound as a subtle and relaxed mix of both genres, with a great exe­cu­tion and pro­duc­tion, by the way. But, back to the songs. “Clocks” and “Wake” are very short tracks, both with a con­stant back­ground and rhyth­mic­ally used effects. The spoken word and samples aren’t absent either. The EP fin­ishes with the excep­tion­ally beau­ti­ful “Herb­stzeit­lose”, a mod­est piano song with very strong lyr­ics. The lyr­ics are all very good, by the way; poetic and ambigu­ous, and often with a sombre touch (as test­i­fied by lines like:Once we learned to speak we learned to fail / We turned white and cold / Like lov­ers).

As you will have under­stood, I’m quite enthu­si­astic about this debut, and this is cer­tainly a band I will fol­low. If you like neo­folk, mar­tial and related genres, and are look­ing for a new sound, you’d do good to acquire some­thing by Rome, a band cer­tainly deserving of all the atten­tion and praise it’s been get­ting lately.

Reviewed by D.M.K.


1. Like Lov­ers (2:38)
2. The Orch­ards (3:07)
3. Un Autre Vis­ion (3:16)
4. Clocks (2:29)
5. Wake (2:38)
6. Herb­stzeit­lose (3:36)