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Music Review: Holy Roman Empire – The Longue Duree

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Holy Roman Empire is comprised of guitarist Neeraj Kane (ex-The Hope Conspiracy, The Suicide File, Stabbed By Words, Sweet Cobra), guitarist Jay Jancetic (ex-Arma Angelus, Stabbed By Words), bassist Geoff Reu (Killing Tree), drummer Tony Tintari (ex-Rise Against, Shai Hulud), and vocalist Emily Schambra (ex-Longdistancerunner). Holy Roman Empire was listed as one of Alternative Press' "100 Bands You Need to Know in 2007." They have shared stages w/ Rise Against, Anti-Flag, Spitalfield, Piebald, Damnation AD & many more.

Combining their hardcore roots with influences like The Cure and Sunny Day Real Estate, HRE has staked out a unique position on the post-hardcore landscape. Their latest full length release, The Longue Duree, on Hewhocorrupts Inc. is 12 tracks of powerful guitar driven music fronted by a very talented female vocalist and supported by a rock steady rhythm section. These are sharp, well arranged, intelligent, and well-recorded songs.

I have to admit to a predilection for female fronted bands but not in a sexist, leering way. I really like women. I was the only boy in my family with three sisters. I enjoy being around women, I value their insights, I admire their strengths and virtues. Although my musical tastes generally run along extreme lines such as hardcore, death metal, and grindcore, I found myself listening to The Longue Duree quite a bit.

"Undeserving You" opens the CD with a really nice guitar motif which is nicely fleshed out when the rest of the band kicks in and Emily starts singing. There's a nice part about half-way through where the band drops out, leaving only a single guitar playing the opening motif underneath Emily's vocal and then the rest of the band comes back in. It's a compelling musical moment. There is some nice guitar interplay on "An Alliance of Thieves" with Emily's vocal soaring high above the fray."Hail Mary" has a thick, heavy sound that enhances but does not overpower the song's melody. A bit of feedback and a nice guitar figure lead into "Mute Hearts."

Emily Schambra's voice stays in your head long after the music is over. I gave this CD to some co-workers so they could listen to it and give me their impressions. They view musical gifts from me with a wary eye knowing my fondness for hardcore, noise, and grind but they liked this CD very much and I think you will as well.

I'm sure there will be some comparisons to Lacuna Coil or Evanescence which are also fronted by strong female vocalists. These kinds of comparisons do none of these bands justice. HRE, along with the aforementioned bands, stands or falls on their own merits. I think they stand very well.

I've long admired Hewhocorrupts, Inc. for their roster of sonic adventurers like 7000 Dying Rats, Tower of Rome, and Hewhocorrupts. While Holy Roman Empire may be somewhat more accessible than some of their HWC, Inc. brethren, they are no less an interesting or satisfying listen. If you like bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Sensefield, or if you just like kick-ass rock with great vocals and well arranged songs, I think you will find The Longue Duree worth your time.

Release Date: 6/5/07
Track Listing:
   1. Undeserving You
   2. The Ace
   3. An Alliance of Thieves
   4. Hail Mary
   5. Our Whole Lives, Waiting
   6. Shatter Historic
   7. Olympus
   8. Mute Hearts
   9. Action Figures
  10. Take it Outside
  11. Fire Drill
  12. Vicarious Haunting

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