Released: March 2018
Reviewed by: Jane Stockwell
I have to begin with the caveat that I am far from an expert on various genres of music. I enjoy what I enjoy, and on the whole I can listen to almost any type of music as long as it is interesting and I can feel the narrative and the emotional commitment of the artist performing it.
“Away From Light” by Rome In Monochrome was my very first purchase through Bandcamp, after having never heard of Bandcamp until introduced to the site by Benedict last year. It was released by BadMoodMan Music, a sub-arm of Solitude Productions which is a small Russian recording label. I bought it as a pre-release a few days before the release date after hearing the first track on Bandcamp by pure random chance.
I will admit to being shallow enough that it was the name of the band that caught my attention at first. “Rome in Monochrome” just rolled off the tongue so easily that I was intrigued to hear what a band with such a name would be. As it turns out, they are an Italian band so the name isn’t as random as my first impressions told me.
Once I got past the name and started to listen, I found their music strangely compelling. I was immediately captivated by the guitar playing unaccompanied before the vocals began, followed by drums and rhythm guitars that began to expand the sound. I particularly enjoyed the guitar work throughout and the drumming is relaxed and solid.
Benedict made the comment that it sounds like someone put Michael Stipe (REM) and Robert Smith (The Cure) into a room with a couple of metal session players and gave them a week to make a record, and this is what they came up with. Even though my knowledge of these artists and their individual sounds isn’t as in depth as Benedict’s, I had to agree.
If I had to give the album a classification, then “Alternative Rock” would be the closest I can come up with. While the band claims a genre of Doom, I would be loathe to assign that label myself. There is an overlay of a Death Growl in parts to give it a Death/Doom sound, but it felt to me like someone had said, “Hey guys, let’s add a Death Growl here!” rather than there being any real feeling of it adding to the piece.
My major gripe is that each of the tracks are just too similar. If I didn’t look at the track name currently playing then I would have had no real conception of which track I was actually listening to. I really found it difficult to write about this album because of the similarity of the sound across it.
The vocals are solid and complimentary to the instrumentals. They sing in English with no trace of European accent. However, the mixing is such that the lyrics are hard to pick up. I had to put on my headset to focus sufficiently to be able to get the gist of what they were singing. Which was a shame, because I did genuinely enjoy listening to the vocals.
The Death Growls just felt completely out of place with the otherwise Alternative Rock feel. I just had the impression that they couldn’t make up their mind which genre they wanted to appeal to, so tried a little bit of everything, just in case. It could also do with the mix being adjusted a little so audiences can pick up the thoughtful lyrics.
“Away From Light” is compelling, despite a few elements that perhaps could have made it not to be so. In the end I was happy to part with money to purchase this album (which I did), and it’s a decision I don’t regret. Even if it’s not an album I will listen to every day, it is a worthy addition to my music collection.