Friday, 17 February 2012

Review: Romans - Cravatte Nere

 Fellow Kerrang! readers, surely you must have had your attention captured in witnessing the first photograph of Birmingham alt-rockers Romans which featured frontman Tom Sivell dressed in Roman centurion uniform and having slaughtered his fellow bandmates. He was literally a Roman. It suggested they would be a band that would play with a sense of fun, adventure and ability to play extreme. Their debut mini-album Cravatte Nere however, suggests the total opposite. It's really difficult to find anything to this collection of songs that makes this band really extreme, unique, dynamic or fun in any way.

 Let's take some time to reflect on bands that play in a similar ilk to Romans, because the style of music's major rise to mainstream popularity means that the Brummie quartet will be carried off in the rising as well. 2011 saw groups that take their love of indie rock and mixes it with the more melodic alternative rock bands like Thrice, Weezer and Taking Back Sunday and an influence from post-hardcore acts like At the Drive-In and Refused. Last year witnessed many bands in this manner rise to considerable sucess with the likes of Twin Atlantic, Deaf Havana and We Are the Ocean all releasign albums which gained chart success along with You Me At Six's Sinners Never Sleep which saw the group take an influence from this style rather than the pop-punk influence of old. In 2012, this style of rock is continuing to expand with Watford rockers Lower Than Atlantis signing to Island Records. Lower Than Atlantis are going to be huge this year and I want to get behind the hype. I think musically they're very good but I cannot get past the horrible vocals of frontman Mike Duce so they're on the whole unenjoyable. Anyway, this is all filler material, but it's required to make this post look bigger because frankly, the music on Cravatte Nere is so unremarkable and uneventful, they're's little to say about it.
 I mean, that's not to suggest that they're totally bland because there is a talent on this mini-album for creating strong melodies like the hooked up Something Biblical whic shows something of a frenzy being stirred as they play and the more complex rhythmic patterns found in Two and Rolling and Rome Sweet Rome showing a greater amount of thought put into the structure and flow of their songs. Plus there's a much wider range of influences and a ceartain blues inspired style of songwriting is found in melancholic ballad Barriers while the violent post-hardcore adrenaline is found most effectively in Coffee. There's even a greater influence to the more widely rcognised classic hard rock with various guitar riffs sounding reminiscent to the guitar work of Malcom Young.
 But, even with all this, Romans simply sound... lacking. Nothing more to it than that. All their songs lack that certain extra oomph that Twin Atlantic and Young Guns thrive on. But there's not a whole lot that this band does that keeps listeners genuinely gripped and excited even in their ever-chaging and surprising musical nature. It just comes with the ability to be flat out dull and unpleasant.
 So, while this mini-album reveals the initial signs of talent and potential from the Birmingham bunch, there is definitely room for improvement. What makes bands like Romans so engaging is their ability to thrill, to entice and to make listeners want to stop everything they're doing purely so thay can listen and rock out. Romans are yet to find the ability to do any of these things but perhaps with an extra dose of heaviness and distortion to their playing they can be come a group of more epic proportions. Anyway, everyone else seems to like them and they're probably going to become huge in the next few months or so and I'll look like the fool for hating them at first.

Romans' Cravetter Nere is out now.

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