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  • HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE
    "Lost In Landscapes" CDEP

    HWC011
    Release Date: 7/26/05
    Track Listing:

    1. Gaper's Delay
    2. Guards Off
    3. Your Side
    4. Topography
    5. Ways To Save Our Lives
    6. Pony Express
    "More like HOLY FUCKING AWESOME! Upon reading the liner sheet that accompanied this EP, I knew there’d be some impressive musicianship due to members who’d put their time in with hardcore staples such as the Suicide File, Shai Hulud and the Killing Tree. What really was surprising, though, was their melodic form. They play very catchy music, though technically complex and arranged with the skill that only weathered veterans could possess. And that voice. Oh, that powerful, aggressive, in-command-yet-angelic voice of Emily Shambra. It’s just spellbinding. She leads this pack of seriously talented rockers with her soaring vocals. When she reaches for the sky, it’s clearly not the limit, as she pushes through the atmosphere created by the delayed guitars to hit those high, chills-down-the-spine notes. And she hits them hard, never straining, with full confidence and powerful delivery. Not only is she belting out how, “You owe me another life!” in the track, “Gaper’s Delay,” she’s making you believe and feel it with her gut-wrenching, heartbreaking melodies. Lost in Landscapes is melodic, intelligent, and played with conviction. Holy Roman Empire can write a song. They have the skill and creativity to back it up. It’s not everyday that something this good comes along. If you are any kind of fan of the post-hardcore genre, do not haste in adding this to your collection. It’s not going to leave my CD player for a long time, and even when it does, it will make frequent returns."
    30music.com

    "Listening to Holy Roman Empire's debut EP after hearing the far superior follow-up full-length The Longue Durée is rather like hearing the Arcade Fire's self-titled record after experiencing Funeral: in retrospect, most of what made the full-length so good is here to one degree or other, but there was clearly an enormous creative leap in between. Lost in Landscapes is competently executed post-hardcore from a bunch of Chicago scene stalwarts anchored by former Longdistancerunner singer Emily Schambra. "Topography," with its unexpected punk-funk bass riff and chiming dual guitars under Schambra's impassioned vocals, hints at the band's incipient strengths, but that's immediately followed by the utterly average indie rock thrum of "Ways to Save Our Lives." Better songwriting, a stronger producer, and a crucial decision to put Schambra's outstanding vocals front and center in the band's sound would fix all of this EP's errors, but overall, Lost in Landscapes is strictly for serious fans interested in Holy Roman Empire's growing pains."
    AllMusic

    "Roll call for this band reads like a who's who of late 90s hardcore vets including, but not limited to, ex-members of RISE AGAINST, THE HOPE CONSPIRACY, and ARMA ANGELUS. But the band wisely pins its hopes on rising star / former LONGDISTANCERUNNER vocalist Emily Schambra whose charismatic delivery carries this short-player. Schambra and the band work well together - impressive considering it's been reported that the music was written a year before she joined the group. A considerable departure for each of its members, "Lost In Landscapes" suggests that the band's debut full-length [due some time next year] will be a stunner. Meantime, these six songs make for an impressive introduction."
    AMP

    "Holy Roman Empire is a new band featuring some pretty big alumni, the guitarist of hope conspiracy and the drummer of shai hulud. The result? Spacey post hardcore with a female singer. Think thats weird? It gets weirder.... its not half bad. It kinda reminds me of that Renee Heartfelt band that everyone is crapping their pants over... solid post-hardcore songs with awkward mid90s space rock worship mixed in (dudes even wearing a failure shirt in the booklet), and vocals/lyrics that are ok, but less than stellar. I am slightly biased against female vocals, im not going to lie, but i still thought this record was kinda cool. If you can get past the femakle vox its definitely worth checking out. At the very least its something different and i have a feeling a lot of people who dig that renee heartfelt band could get down to this. 6 songs, which is pretty decent in terms of EPs these days. Songs to check out are "your side" and "toporgraphy".. i looked for a website but i guess they dont have one."
    Centerfuse.net

    "If you go into Holy Roman Empire's Lost In Landscapes, looking for anything remotely close to what the members used to be a part of, you'll be most likely confused and disappointed. Boasting members of the now defunct Suicide File and Shai Hulud, HRE play a style much more akin to a female fronted Sunny Day Real Estate. Singer Emily Schambra has a terrific, present voice that lifts above any of the driving guitars, but could just as soon carry any of their weight. It's a versatile sound that puts the band in a good position before the first chords are even struck. Either way, the band comes out swinging. Textured, dissonant guitars, splashing drums, and Schambra powerfully wailing above it all. "Topography" displays the band's stunning dynamics better than any other point, as an ominous melodic lean in before the full power of the band is actually unleashed. The band plays a lot with different sounds and tempos, but to their credit, it all gels perfectly. The bouncy nature of "Your Side" sounds just as good as the subtle, understated vocals and instrumentation of "Ways To Save Our Lives," where the vocals take on an angelic, choir-like quality before the guitars crash in at the end. An extremely strong effort from a band with just as strong a background. Hardcore it is not, but fans of a multitude of genres ranging from indie to hardcore will find something to enjoy."
    Clamor

    "Unless Chris Martin and Mike Patton join forces for a Loggins & Messina cover band, this may be the first, last and only time you see the word “Coldplay” in the pages of Decibel. Blame Holy Roman Empire for necessitating the comparison: the C-word (the one that’s not Charlemagne) sticks out like a sore thumb on at least some of the press materials accompanying the group’s debut Lost in Landscapes. The Chicago quintet—a group of hardcore refugees united by their love of Sunny Day Real Estate, the Cure and Gwyneth Paltrow’s babydaddy—put it all on paper so you don’t get confused when iTunes plays a cruel joke and queues up Holy Roman Empire and Denali back-to-back. So points for truth in advertising, even if the brief six-song EP—purportedly written in entirety before singer Emily Schambra was enlisted—stops just short of bringing melodic veggie burgers to the post-hardcore/emo sausage party. The packaging (courtesy of Fire Eater Industries) stems from the Aaron Turner school of simple economy, and the shit sounds crisp, even if Schambra’s vocals largely cut against the sleepy soundscapes. Everything on Lost in Landscapes works well within the context of the group members’ musical résumés (Shai Hulud, Rise Against, etc.), but the essence of pop music isn’t just farting around with effects pedals and making things as transparent as possible. Seriously, if you’re taking an entirely conservative approach to something that’s already patently unfashionable, you have to buy into the idea fully to sell it—sort of like those dudes in Coldplay, the reigning kings of wishful thinking."
    Decibel

    "Sometimes when writing reviews its hard to say something interesting about a band because the band themselves is not remotely interesting. They have nothing unique, and they are unable to distinguish themselves. This is most definitely not the case with Holy Roman Empire. Hailing from Chicago, Holy Roman Empire certainly has created a sound that one would not expect when looking at its members' former bands. With Neeraj Kane (an ex-The Hope Conspiracy guitarist) and Tony Tintari (a drummer formerly in both Rise Against and Shai Halud) as members one would expect a brutal band. That is certainly not the case here, due to the addition of Emily Schambra on vocals. She has an absolutely incredible voice that is the much needed key in establishing their indie style. The cd starts out with “Gaper’s Delay” which really shows off all the band's talents. The production on this ep is amazing. Everything is able to be heard clearly without blatant signs of over production. Furthermore, all of the songs have their own definite feel to them. Whether it be the more punkish songs like “Ways to Save Our Lives” and “Your Side” or the more emo/indie tracks like “Gaper’s Delay” and “Pony Express,” the songs all have unique elements and make the cd a very complete experience. Overall, this cd was quite the surprise. With this just being an ep, there is so much more potential in this band. They could move their sound in almost any direction shown on the cd and still have a solid release. I can’t wait to hear more from them in the future."
    Decoy Music

    "So basically, I discovered how normal indie-music fans become indie snobs by listening to Holy Roman Empire’s Lost in Landscapes. When a person has listened to a lot of music, they find bands that exemplify certain genres to them. For me, it’s post-hardcore = MeWithoutYou; power-pop = Fountains of Wayne; dark, expansive rock = Radiohead, and so on and so forth. When this person finds an up-and-coming band that is in the same musical universe as one of their favorite bands, they immediately rush to put them down because they’re ‘not as good’ as their genre-exemplifying band. This nearly happened to Holy Roman Empire. The sound is in the same general genre as Radiohead’s OK Computer: dark, expansive tracks that go for the epic touches whenever possible. Needless to say, Holy Roman Empire is not as good as Radiohead. But that doesn’t mean that these guys suck, either. As this is Holy Roman Empire’s debut album, there are some things that they need to address in the epics. First off, the musicians need to complicate things. Much of this album stagnates, because these hardcore/metal refugees (complete with members who are ex-Rise Against, ex-Hope Conspiracy, ex-Arma Angelus, Shai Hulud, Stabbed by Words….you get the picture) just don’t have the experience at writing in this genre of music. There are some genuinely brilliant touches, like on the slow-burning “Gaper’s Delay” and the straight-up amazing “Ways to Save Our Lives,” but for each of those, there’s the obnoxiously repetitive “Guards Off” and the forgettable “Your Side.” And, to be blunt, it’s pretty much in the songwriting itself. The drums and bass do a highly admirable job of attempting to push this forward (“Pony Express”, especially), but it’s just not enough. There needs to be something more here. Another semi-problem is that a girl is singing. I have nothing against female singers, but most boast that they are classically trained (as Emily Schambra does). Classically trained means boring - nothing survives on being conventional anymore. Throughout the EP, the melodies here are a little sub-par in the fact that they don’t leave an impression. The melodies don’t have to be catchy, but they do have to make the listener feel something (take the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, for instance: Karen O’s vocal explosions can hardly be hummed, but they’re extremely memorable). The two spots to feature interesting vocals can be found in “Ways to Save Our Lives,” where the band sets a hymn-like aria behind the lead vocals to create a very unique mood, and “Pony Express,” where they once again layer vocals to create a haunting, eerie effect. The songs here are brooding, thoughtful, dark, and prone to loud outbursts that are subtle reminders of the hardcore roots encased in Holy Roman Empire. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bands like that out there right now. Holy Roman Empire needs to make it stand out in a sea of pensive indie rockers. Welcome to fickle indie rock, hardcore and metal refugees."
    Delusions of Adequacy

    "It seems to be an eventuality that most members of hardcore bands will, at some time or another, feel the urge to play something a little different. Some of these projects become legendary, like Quicksand or Fugazi, while others simply fade into memory. Holy Roman Empire is a particularly curious side-project: a female-fronted alternative rock act comprised of members of The Hope Conspiracy, Suicide File, Arma Angelus, Shai Hulud, Rise Against, The Killing Tree, Sweet Cobra and Stabbed By Words. At this point, you're probably thinking exactly what I was: What the fuck? While this side-project will most likely fall by the wayside as the memories of the members' respective hardcore bands live on, Holy Roman Empire is at least worth giving a listen. Fans of At The Drive In or 27 could certainly appreciate the band's use of melody, though Emily Schambra's vocals are nowhere near as haunting as Maria Christopher's. In fact, she sounds an awful lot like if the girl from Discount took a few classical voice lessons and listened to a No Doubt album. Plain and simple, your enjoyment of Holy Roman Empire depends on your taste in female singers. Musically, these guys blow away comparable alternative rock acts with roots in the hardcore scene (think Coheed and Cambria). It's all clever enough, catchy enough and well-played enough, Schambra's vocals just don't floor me like I had hoped they would. Bottom Line: While this definitely isn't what I had longed to hear come from this particular group of musicians, it definitely isn't a bad record. However, while holding this record up against the amazing hardcore from which it was spawned isn't fair, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed."
    Lambgoat

    "5 human groups which were formed the Hope Conspiracy, by the original member of the Shai Hulud and the Killing Tree et cetera, possess the woman vocal. This work with the EP which becomes the debut work, from past personal history of the band member has become the contents where either the imagination is not attached. Their styles the American Nishiumi bank, are something which makes the sound of the especially San Diego and Seattle scene closely resembling, but after all there participates with such as Shai Hulud and Hope Conspiracy there being just a member who, the sense of security of performance, profoundness, and sense of the lyrical melody which has the running impression is preeminent. From the Pretty Girls Make Graves straight, delicacy and the extension and the kana vocal of the Emily having matched to the intellectual kind of sound which is locked, beautifully, it is height of the outrageous degree of completion where the debut work you cannot think at all. Whether the vocal of the Emily main person of the Andrea Zollo girl of the Pretty Girls Make Graves entirely being in the extent which is thought you are surprised but the above that are surprised in height of song power. With this work it is a little lonesome not to participate in the chorus other than the Emily, but with the voice where the man members of hard core field graduate the field are thick in the chorus it participated, it tried whether intimidating probably will increase more. In any case, as for the potential which this band has the ceiling not knowing foreboding. It becomes that also the full album the ahead this comes out however probably will be, the around next year it becomes considerable the big name, it is it probably won't be? The splendid work where possibility of future break is made to feel. We want hearing in the many people."
    Noise-Addiction.net

    "Now this is an ex-member band! HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE contain former members of THE HOPE CONSPIRACY, THE SUICIDE FILE, RISE AGAINST, ARMA ANGELUS, SHAI HULUD, THE KILLING TREE, and LONG DISTANCE RUNNER. Either the respective people in this band have a hard time keeping together a stable gig, or like to dip their toes in any number of genres to merely diversify their musical portfolio. Outside of the eye-catching element of this band's connections, none of those mentioned have much of a bearing on HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE, and their six song debut EP Lost In Landscapes. Led by the gorgeous lead vocals of Emily Schambra, this band plays a warming mixture of pop and post-hardcore with nuanced guitar work, flavorful guitars and sterling melodies. Guitarists Neeraj Kane and Jay Jancetic both support and supplant Schambra on this release with a blend of clean and distorted guitars. Fluid, and chock full of tasteful noodling, the guitars give Lost In Landscapes a certain kind of technical edge. Lost steadily improves as the EP rolls along, building in both tension, and overal intensity. The backend tracks of "Ways To Save Our Lives" and "Pony Express" are heavier than the material before it, and seem to be more developed too in terms of songwriting. The final tune closes out with Schrambra's voice multitracked to deliver a virtual vortex of vocals while the percussion drives an inpenetrable head-nodding beat. These compliments aside, HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE struggles when it seems amiss over whether its music wants to be "quaint," or rooted in something more rockin'. The band clearly sounds more comfortable when their songs are broadly in the vein of Diary era SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE and less focused on chilly pop with aimless guitar soundscapes. Lost In Landscapes is a cool little EP (I suppose 20 minutes in length makes it not so little) that presents a band with a wide vision, but some minor creative hang-ups. For the sake of Emily Schramba's immense vocal talent, here's to hoping that HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE's next effort is less scattered."
    PastePunk.com

    "It seems that trading in your breakdowns and screaming for lighter, gentler fare is all the rage these days. While there are certainly plenty of post-hardcore bands that are really just bad indie rock, there have been a number of recent hardcore vets that took their influences and sublimated them into something more melodic, often to positive results. Holy Roman Empire is one of those bands, a near-supergroup of late 90's hardcore refugees like guitarist Neeraj Kane (Suicide File), guitarist Jay Jancetic (ex-Arma Angelus), bassist Geoff Reu (ex-Killing Tree) and drummer Tony Tintari (ex-Shai Hulud). The only member who isn't from a well-known hardcore act is vocalist Emily Schambra, who cut her teeth in Longdistancerunner. Vocally, Schambra sounds eerily like the ghost of Alison Mosshart (Discount) and the band itself sounds like it was inspired by other notable post-hardcore and early emo forebearers like Sunny Day Real Estate and Failure as well as other more laid back indie rock acts. The short EP is pleasant and unassuming but relatively forgettable, as there seems to be a distinct lack of interplay between the musicians and the vocalist, and consequently far too much responsibility is placed on Schambra's shoulders. It almost sounds like the band and Emily weren't in the same room when the songs were written, and perhaps some live performances together as a band will yield a tighter and more memorable full-length."
    PunkNews.org

    "Certainly not what one would expect from alumni made up of tough-guy outfits like the Killing Tree, the Suicide File, and the Hope Conspiracy, but then again, that seems to be the point. Chock full of technical yet melodic Quicksand riffs, Holy Roman Empire's ace in the hole, or Achilles' heel as it were, is vocalist Emily Schambra, a classically trained singer who is the sultry ying to the band's crunchy, post-hardcore yang. Unfortunately, it's this distinction that winds up becoming the band's biggest liability. Schambra's vocals do add certain panache to an otherwise unmemorable six songs, but this flare only works against her by creating unsightly comparisons to Evanescence. Kudos to the band for charging headfirst into unfamiliar territory even if the end result could hardly be considered a success."
    Punk Planet

    "What happens when you mix four parts ex members of The Hope Conspiracy, Rise Against, Shai Hulud, The Suicide File, Stabbed by Wounds, and The Killing Tree, one part classically trained female vocalist, and top it with a splash of rock? You get the new six-track release from Chicago’s Holy Roman Empire. With a list of resumes like that one would expect some type of speed hardcore sound to come out of this band. Turns out one would be totally wrong. Holy Roman Empire writes catchy, heavy, alternative rock music that fans of every genre can enjoy. Think something like Sunny Day Real Estate and Quicksand with a very small dash of Coldplay and you may have a taste of what they sound like; Better yet, go buy the CD."
    San Diego Punk

    "Do you remember Ashes? Junction? Hell, even Samuel for that matter? Have your ears ever had the chance to listen to Beta Minus Mechanic? Copper? Idle Hands? Well maybe it's all little rusty for you hardcore kids in the 25 and older age range, so let me refresh your memory. Holy Roman Empire as well as all the bands listed before play post-hardcore with a lead singer that happens to own a vagina. Yes, now you know you’ve heard this band before. Holy Roman Empire features ex-members of the Killing Tree, The Suicide File, and Shai Hulud who have given up on mosh parts and sing-a-longs for catchy riffs and sugary sweet female vocals. I don't know exactly at what point in a hardcore kid's life they want to give up the circle pits and the pile-ons for 21+ shows at trendy uptown bars and a maybe a Jade Tree or Equal Vision record deal, but it seemed to happen a lot in the late 90's and the first part of the new millennium. Lost in Landscapesfeatures six tracks of bombastic heavy guitars that drift into softer melodies as Emily Schambra belts out soulful honest lyrics about relationships and sex in a powerful sultry way. Her golden pipes would not only put her early 90's counterparts to shame but also would make Kelly Clarkson wish she never stepped foot on the American Idol stage. Emily is just that damn good of a singer. Right now, I'm just begging for a hidden track cover of "Since U Been Gone". The production on Lost in Landscapesis what really propels these songs as it is crisp and clear. It can capture the listener's attention or be subtle enough to be used as background noise. However even while you are working on reviews or homework, your foot will be tapping away to the catchy rhythms and you might find yourself humming along to "Guards Off" or "Your Side" during a 7-Eleven munchie run. The layout is nothing to write to Meghan Ball about - she sang for Copper and Idle Hands and dated a dude in Snapcase. Yes, I am the Peter Gammons of 90's hardcore. It screams Jade Tree 1996 with its sparse use of dots and fuzzy pictures of the band. However, it works for the band and I expected nothing more or less. Holy Roman Empire are not exactly reinventing the post-hardcore-with-female-vocals wheel here, but Lost in Landscapes is an enjoyable listen from start to finish with no real complaints. I just can't help it that I feel like I've heard everything on here before, yeah I know, like anything in hardcore (post or otherwise) is groundbreaking these days. All in all, I would probably venture out to some trendy uptown bar to check these guys and gal out if they ever played the Twin Cities. I would sit back, drink a beer and try to remember whatever happened to my copy of Copper's Drag Queen."
    Scene Point Blank

    "Both Hewhocorrupts Inc. and members of Holy Roman Empire have apparently decided to show a bit of their softer side. Featuring former/current members of Suicide File, Stabbed By Words, The Hope Conspiracy, Rise Against, Shai Hulud, etc., this band actually sounds more along the lines of Discount and The Reputation than any of their previous bands. The strong female vocals over post-hardcore/rock crossover riffage makes for a rather solid sound, although I feel there's still a bit of room for improvement. Definitely a band to keep an eye on though."
    SparkPlugg

    "We all know that "ex-members-of" bands are often trite and lackluster, but in some instances they serve as a refreshing outlet for their members' artistic metamorphoses. Holy Roman Empire is a prime example -- a bristling rocket-pop quintet that count former members of Shai Hulud, Suicide File and the Killing Tree among their hallowed ranks. Given their pedigree, you wouldn't expect Lost in Landscapes to shimmer with such sleek pop chops, but its verdant blend of rocket-fire guitars and ethereal atmospherics is a handsome, frosty concoction, something along the lines of the Cocteau Twins' Liz Frazier fronting Mineral. The band has a potent weapon in frontwoman Emily Schambra -- she's a viscerally engaging creature with a clear, gentle voice and glass-melting intensity. "Topography"'s guitars flutter like sparrows around her siren-call, eventually erupting into a blitzkrieg assault of overdriven muscle and demonstrative catharsis. "Your Side" is pathos-drenched pop, and "Ways to Save Our Lives"' emotional upheaval is nearly as thick as its wall of superfuzz guitar and lock-bottom rhythmic thrush. Looking for an antidote to all the frumpy female-fronted bands currently dotting the landscape and gumming up the airwaves? Lost in Landscapes has exactly what you need."
    Splendid E-Zine

    "Holy Roman Empire has released its debut EP, Lost In Landscapes, and it certainly isn't anything to sleep on. The band’s recordings exemplify the power of soaring female vocals, carried by heavily distorted guitars and impatient drums. Layered back-up vocals provide body for the band, allowing for a genuinely richer and fuller sound. Roaring bass and sentimental guitars make the second track, “Guards Off’ a slightly different monster. The third track, “Your Side”, is edgier than anything previous and opens with a violent pick slide, letting you know its time to throw your devil horns in the air. The tone of the album is possibly more melodramatic than angry, leaving me to lean more towards the emotional cuff as inspiration. But the hooks are a true feat and allow Holy Roman Empire’s lead vocalist, Emily Schambra, to stretch her talented abilities. Without trying to sound too matter-of-fact, this group essentially offers everything I hoped Evanescence was going to provide when I found out they were fronted by a woman (I was very very wrong), Not that Holy Roman Empire would fit in the same genre, but HRE (Holy Roman Empire) is producing music that could easily be successful on mainstream radio. More importantly, what separates HRE from the slew of others is their approach to music making, which exhibits far more integrity than commercial bands with similar line-ups. The fourth track, “Topography”, is slightly heavier than the others in an early 1990’s pop-rock kind of way and has a hint of desperation in the tone of the artists. The group manages to fulfill high expectations, as this first release was nearly a year in the making. When in the process of constructing their debut EP, Holy Roman Empire made a wise decision to shy away from live engagements until their sound had been fully realized, a stunt many bands could potentially benefit from learning. Although many of the musicians in Holy Roman Empire hail from much heavier bands such as Killing Tree, Shai Hulud and Suicide File, their latest reincarnation is artistically independent of earlier endeavors. Lost in Landscapes is an excellent introduction to the group’s unique sound and leaves me curious about what might develop between this point and the release of a full length. I suggest you keep an eye on this exuberant five-piece, because you will no doubt be hearing their name again very soon."
    Tripwire

    "Holy Roman Empire is a new female fronted five piece band made of ex members of The Hope Conspiracy, The Suicide File, Stabbed by Words, Sweet Cobra, Arma Angelus, The Killing Tree, Rise Against and Shai Hulud, and their new CD EP on Hewhocorrputs Inc.is a bomb. Fronted by lead singer Emily Schambra (Long Distance Runner), the band has got what I call the hardcore violence mixed with the sexy touch. It's not like other bands as Walls Of Jericho, because Holy Roman Empire fuses the pop elemetns of The Cure and Sunny Day Real Estate with the aggressive sound of Quicksand. The six song EP "Lost In Landscapes" is made to make you enjoy the ebullient sound and the driving melodies of tunes like "Guards Off", "Your Side" and "Ways To Save Our Lives". In general the EP does not disappoint at all, but after amazing EP's (as Not Enough Gold), I think Hewhocorrputs Inc. should start releasing more LP's. I am looking forward to them."
    True Punk

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