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HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE
"The Longue Durée" CD
Release Date: 6/5/07
- Undeserving You
- The Ace
- An Alliance of Thieves
- Hail Mary
- Our Whole Lives, Waiting
- Shatter Historic
- Mute Hearts
- Action Figures
- Take it Outside
- Fire Drill
- Vicarious Haunting
"Chicago, Illinois quintet Holy Roman Empire have had quite a successful career in their tenure as a band. Armed with a short five song EP titled Lost In Landscapes, the band managed to land interviews and features in Alternative Press, AMP, Punknews.org, and the Onion AC Club. Holy Roman Empire probably garnered so much attention because the atmospheric Lost In Landscapes showed a band with enormous potential and it also doesn’t hurt that Holy Roman Empire contains ex-members of bands such as Rise Against, The Hope Conspiracy, Arma Angelus, Shai Hulud, and Longdistancerunner. The Longue Durée may not be one of this year’s highly touted releases for most in the music community, but for longtime followers the release of The Longue Durée marks the end of two years of anticipation with a short respite thrown in (2006’s three song demo). The band waste little time in establishing their energetic pace, starting right away with opening track “Undeserving You”. This song blends the bands more melodic pop influences with a more aggressive rock edge that is more reminiscent of the members previous outfits. Right away a noticeable difference stands out from the band's 2005 EP Lost In Landscapes and that is that the band has trimmed away most of the atmospheric excess in favor of a sleeker combination of their influences and their trademark melodic rock sound. One thing that remains unchanged is that vocalist Emily Schambra’s soaring vocals command the attention of the listener and fits seamlessly within the band’s sound, whether it be layered over the melodic rock sections or the more aggressive portions of any given track. She has an impressive range and her classically trained vocals add a whole other level to the songs presented on The Longue Durée. While the album opens with two songs that have a more melodic sensibility (“Undeserving You” and “The Ace”), “An Alliance of Thieves” marks the first full fledged rocker on the disc. While some may lean toward the more melodic tracks on the album, I find that the tracks that stick to the more aggressive side of the bands spectrum tend to be a little more enjoyable and layered and that offers a little more experimentation than found in the other songs. This statement is perfectly exemplified by both “Hail Mary” and “Our Whole Lives, Waiting” , songs that have melodic sensibility to some degree, but largely stick to a heavier sound. The result is a perfectly crafted combination of the bands strengths, which produces an engaging rockers with just the right amount of melodicism and experimentation. “Shatter Historic” is one of the slower songs on the album and finds the band experimenting with different sonic textures, but ultimately never really reels in the listener like some of the other tracks on the album. However, the band quickly recovers with the head bobbing melodies of “Olympus”. While The Longue Durée finds the band making vast improvements to the foundations laid out by their debut EP, a lot of the songs seem to be more reserved and less ambitious. For instance, some of the tracks seem to be “too safe”, cutting out some of the experimental tendencies that seemed more dominant on their EP. However, with “Mute Hearts”, the band seem to craft a sonic blueprint that I expected to see more of throughout The Longue Durée. They took the best parts of their previous album and tweaked it just enough to create a more cohesive and refreshing sound that makes “Mute Hearts” among the best material found on this debut full-length effort. The band close out their album strong with the infectious “Fire Drill” and the soaring “Vicarious Haunting”. The Longue Durée finds Holy Roman Empire further refining their mix of more melodic and experimental influences (The Cure, Sunny Day Real Estate, Hum) with the more straight forward rock and hardcore sounds of their past. While the album is a very enjoyable listen and an improvement on the foundations laid out by their EP, some of the songs on this album didn’t hit as well as others and that made the album feel a little disjointed. However, even with the flaws, The Longue Durée was worth the wait and this album marks only the beginning of what looks like a very bright future for one of the best up and coming bands in the scene."
"Holy Roman Empire frontwoman Emily Schambra would undoubtedly be horrified
by this comparison, but still, it must be said: she is the Kelly Clarkson
of post-hardcore. By this, it is meant that Schambra brings a surprising
amount of not only technical ability but also emotional depth to a style of
music that's not exactly rife with either of those things. Without her,
Holy Roman Empire would be a much different -- and far worse -- band. On
their second album, producer Matt Allison (a longtime veteran of the
Chicago scene) emphasizes Holy Roman Empire's guitar sounds, keeping the
rhythm section well in the background and using Neeraj Kane and Jay
Jancetic's mostly distortion-free riffs to frame Schambra's up-front
vocals. The results are remarkably clean without being sterile, and the
nearly slick sound plays up the subtle pop hooks of tunes like the soaring
"Olympus." The Longue Durée, pretentious album title aside, is tuneful
without being blatantly commercial, thoughtful without being ickily emo,
and a generally rocking good listen. There's really no reason why these
guys couldn't be huge, like on an all-over-MTV2 level."
"Since the first sounds rippled from HRE, it was plain their potential
far outreached most of their post hardcore peers. And with TLD, the
growung chorus of supporters singing their virtues ( rise againsts tim
mcilrath who cameos here among them) ought to become downright
deafening. From the steady rock sensibilities of hail mary to the
soaring soprano of vocalist email schambra that buoys an alliance of
theives, the album never stalls. The individual players experience is
explicitly present in the albums unflinching consistency as their
thoughtful anthems careen around with calculated abandon, avoiding
anything approaching sameness all the way. Using their pedigrees as a
launching pad and this unbending debut as a foundation, it seems HRE
have built the kind of rock that could support a career. If not, well,
"Prior to popping this disc in for the first time I knew absolutely nothing about Holy Roman Empire and I didn't really care for the band name, so I didn't think I was going to like 'em (yes, I know it's stupid, but if I don't like a band name, I often assume I won't like the band either). Oops. 'Cause I like it. I wouldn't have expected relatively catchy and forceful female-fronted emo/indie/post-hardcore (or whatever the hell you want to call it, I don't care) from an album released by Hewhocorrupts Inc. (nor from a band whose members have also performed in The Hope Conspiracy, Shai Hulud, The Suicide File, and Arma Angelus, among numerous others), but I must commend their diversity, as that is indeed what makes up the band's debut full-length, "The Longue Durée". Original? Not exactly, and as is often the case these days I could do without some of those tired "post-rock" guitar textures that pop up from time to time, but for the most part the songs revolve around lush clean passages and chilled out atmospheres contrasted by punchy, energetic bursts of distortion, and I can definitely hang with that stuff. On rare occasion the vocals sound almost too insanely pristine and polished for this kind of thing, but she's got such a great fuckin' voice, and when the choruses hit the mark her talents absolutely pay off. There are definitely a few little lulls in the songwriting throughout the album where the energy and "catchiness factor" drop off for a bit, so there's a little room for improvement in terms of balancing those elements out (Or perhaps 12 tracks in 42 minutes is ever so slightly much?), but overall they pull it off. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this one, and that's always a cool experience. Not bad at all…"
"In the age of over-oversaturation, it gets tougher all the time to find bands that adhere to a familiar sound but do it really well. Holy Roman Empire is one of them. They do the power-pop, emotionally charged punk rock as well as any other act out there. And I dare say that with some promotional push and a few lucky breaks, “The Longue Duree” could be an underground smash hit the way Panic! At the Disco and Hawthorne Heights records have become. It’s just you wouldn’t be embarrassed to listen to this album in front of people. While the band — made up of former members of Hope Conspiracy, Rise Against, and Shai Hulud — is quite strong and polished, singer Emily Schambra is the reason they could become heavyweights. Her powerful voice drips with passion and puts these songs over the top. She makes cuts such as “Undeserving You,” “An Alliance of Thieves,” “Mute Hearts,” and “Vicarious Hauntings” sure-fire gems just screaming to be discovered."
"It’s not often I hear a female vocalist that I genuinely get into. Not because I’m a sexist, or some piece of shit misogynist but rather because I listen to a lot of aggressive music, and the caliber of abrasiveness needed to fuel said music sounds foreign to me with a woman’s voice. There are plenty of notable female hardcore screamers, but too much toughness from a girl just turns away my interest…maybe I am just a turd. Regardless, HRE vocalist Emily Schambra has a beautiful and soaring voice that is powerful and aggressive, and does this without losing her feminine appeal. “The Longue Duree” starts of with ‘Undeserving You’, a song that is hard to ignore; starting off with a Snapcase-ish barrage of sound that leads into soaring vocals that captivate you immediately. The rest of the album follows suit. Let me reiterate; despite the fact that some of the bands members spent time in notable bands like The Hope Conspiracy and Shai Hulud, Holy Roman Empire is not a hardcore band and this is not a hardcore album. What “The Longue Duree” is, is a well rounded album that anyone from a sensitive pop- punker to the gnarliest of hardcore dudes can enjoy."
"Comprised of former members of bands like The Hope Conspiracy and Shai Hulud, this post h/c release is surprisingly less abrasive than the sum of its parts. HRE has a tight rhythm section that lays a solid foundation for melodic songs that musically brought to mind Lucky Boys Confusion. Singer Emily Schambra has a powerful voice and doesn’t let the boys overshadow her. It took a couple of spins to fully digest the musical departure for some of the band members but after clearing that mental hurdle it’s safe to say that HRE has released a respectable debut. My favorite track was An Alliance Of Thieves."
East Coast Romper
"This is most certainly a guilty pleasure for me. Upon first listen I liked these songs less and less as the record played on. The first couple were pretty good, but then it really dived right into pop rock territory. After a couple more listens they're still pop rock songs, but I like them more. I can't help it. They get stuck in your head. And I honestly think this group is bound to enter some mainstream success... if they want it. Vocalist Emily Schambra is the money in the bank for them though, as her sugary vocals drive the tunes home, and honestly, without her, HRE would just be a good rock band with some post-hardcore leanings. Of course, I wouldn't mind that either. In fact, I'd probably like it better as it would appeal to my hardcore side. But shit, call Carson Daly already... it's worthy of every teenager in the country falling head over heels about. At least it would be a million times better than the shit most people listen to."
"Holy Roman Empire is an entirely new name to me. Quite frankly given the label this is on, the pr company it came to me from, and the fact that the band features former members of Shai Hulud, Hope Conspiracy, and Rise Against it was not at all what I expected. In fact, I was completely blown away by the sound created by the band. Holy Roman Empire land somewhere between Sunny Day Real Estate and Hum, focusing less on the emo end of things and more on the pop sensibilities that both bands had in spades. While it’s easy to be initially sucked in by vocalist Emily Schambra, it’s the band’s immense talent that keeps you coming back. They take Schambra’s vocals to places it can soar. Case in point is “Olympus,” a ditty that would be at home on both pop and alternative rock radio, bringing to mind the sound of the first wave of nineties alternative rock bands – the ones that embraced both the art and the hook, producing some downright amazing albums in the process. The music here is very melodic and accessible, yet it’s gritty and heavy when it needs to be. It’s kind of like a massage that manages to hit all the right spots. The guitar work is of particular note as it really relies heavily on dynamics, creating the atmosphere and setting the tone for nearly every song. This is a very guitar driven record which is quite an accomplishment given that female fronted bands are often dominated by their vocalists. There are a lot of highlights here, including the downright beautiful and engaging sound of “Mute Hearts,” the emotional and pleading sound of album opener “Undeserving You,” and the high energy anthem “Take It Outside.” There are a few sore spots as well but overall this band sounds ready to be the next big thing. This is a band you should know about if you like your music chock full of talent and accessibility. Fans of the aforementioned bands as well as early to mid-nineties Lemonheads, Foo Fighters, Rise Against, and In This Moment will probably enjoy this the most. Don’t be shy, give it a try."
"Holy Roman Empire consists 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 influences from their 'core 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 guitar driven music fronted by a very able female vocalist and supported by a rock steady rhythm section. These are sharp, well arranged, intelligent, and impeccably 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 grew up the only boy with three sisters. I enjoy being around women, I value their insight and opinions. 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. Emily Schambra has a strong, expressive voice, especially on tracks like "An Alliance of Thieves" and "Undeserving You", that stays in your head long after the music has stopped playing. I gave this CD to some co-workers to listen and give me their impressions. They view musical gifts from me with a wary eye knowing my fondness for 'core, noise and grind but they liked this CD very much as I think most folks who give it a chance will. I've long admired Hewhocorrupts, Inc. for their roster of sonic adventurers like 7000 Dying Rats, Tower of Rome, and Hewhocorrupts. While their music may be a bit more accessible than some of their HWC brethren, Holy Roman Empire is a no less interesting or satisfying listen. If you like bands like The Cure, Sunny Day Real Estate, or Sensefield I think you will find The Longue Duree worth your time."
"Holy Roman Empire is a gathering of ex-members of the punk and post-hardcore community such as Rise Against, The Hope Conspiracy, Shai Hulud, Arma Angelus, Suicide File, and The Killing Tree. With bands like that on their resume, the expectations would be that their culminations might result in something disjointed and obscure. With a powerhouse vocalist in Emily Schambra helming the wall of sound that backs her, this is not the case. Schambra capitalized on her contributions to Rise Against’s The Sufferer and the Witness by dishing out powerful wails full of range and melody. There are many moments on The Longue Duree where she is dwarfed by the soaring guitars that capture the songs and rip it away from her, creating a distracting vantage point that makes the listener forget that there is a singer amongst the maelstrom. But by the end of the disc, the listener will find that their attention, while easily distracted by the melody unit behind her, is focused solely on the drive and passion of Schambra’s voice. Holy Roman Empire vaults ahead a sound that merges atmospheric cascading guitars with a darker post-hardcore vibe by creating an advancement on sounds similarly heard from bands such as Sunny Day Real Estate and The Lawrence Arms."
"Amazingly, everyone who played on HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE's debut EP is
back for the full-length despite their status as ex-members of a
large list of hardcore and punk bands. That full-length, the twelve-
track The Longue Duree, is a rocking/beautiful offering from the
Chicago-based quintet. In the past, one of the major complaints
against the band was the lack of cohesion between the band's
musicians - Neeraj Kane, Jay Jancetic, Geoff Reu, and Tony Tintari -
and soaring vocalist Emily Schambra. With Longue, however, the band
has improved greatly - offering an aggressive, elegant, and often
technically-pleasing full-length with tons of showcaseable content. Without a doubt, this record is extremely top-heavy. Opening song
"Undeserving You" is a great example of the way the band seamlessly
blends post-hardcore, pop, and melodic rock influences; "The Ace" is
a hard-hitting affair with the album's hookiest lead riff; and "An
Alliance Of Thieves" features Schambra at her best as she single-
handedly pushes the song's chorus and then some. The fourth one,
"Hail Mary," is probably the album's poppiest tune as it's driven
with steady plucking and contains one of Schambra's most memorable
lines ("I can pretend if you'll be me guide/ your special liar"). The
very next song, "Our Whole Lives, Waiting," is where things start to
head downhill. While it's not a bad song by any means, it starts a
series of songs that offer hardly any diversity amongst themselves.
While closer "Vicarious Haunting" ends the disc on a good note, much
of what comes before it can be summed up in one word: skippable. The Longue Duree is wrapped up with classy artwork and a fitting
recording job from Neil Hennessy and Matt Allison. If anything, the
duo succeeded in making HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE sound more like a full
unit. HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE have shown they are more than capable of
writing several great songs as a complete band, yet with The Longue
Duree they've come up a bit short in their quest to write a fully
"Trying to give up that morning coffee habit? Ever wonder how some people can do without it and they wake up all cheery and smiling? Maybe they’re checking out Holy Roman Empire and their debut full-length The Longue Duree. With me at least, brutality doesn’t sit well first thing in the morning. I like to start my day off a little mellower than Lamb Of God, and damn if the polished alt-rock of Holy Roman Empire doesn't seem to fit this role just perfect! Falling stylistically somewhere among the likes of Foo Fighters or Incubus, Holy Roman Empire intersperses energetic, modern punk rock power-chords with mid-80's guitar passages that resemble those made famous by U2’s The Edge. Musically, the formula repeatedly hits its mark without sounding derivative or wearying the listener. But further comparisons are no doubt in order here, more specifically when it comes to lead singer Emily Schambra. While the dual guitar team of Neeraj Kane and Jay Jancetic, bassist Geoff Reu, and drummer Tony Tintari are more than competent with their respective parts, the show belongs to Schambra. Displaying a voice that crosses former The Gathering singer Anneke van Giersbergen with Ani DiFranco, Schambra thankfully exudes none of that pissed off feminist angst of DiFranco, even when she sings “I’m so fucking angry” in “Action Figures.” Instead, on songs like “Undeserving You,” Schambra comes off as spunky and upbeat, even though her lyrics at times bespeak an emotional complexity that may just be the opposite of how she sounds. She has range too, as album highlight “An Alliance Of Thieves” is not too far removed from something like Concrete Blonde singer Johnette Napolitano’s standout performance on 1993’s “Heal It Up.” And in my book, that’s high praise. Not a metal record, The Longue Duree (which is, incidentally, an academic term meaning roughly “long duration” in French) is instead highly recommended for those who frequently wake up needing that metaphorical kick in the pants to get their day going in the right direction. Enjoy!"
"I'm a sucker for great female vocals, and Holy Roman Empire more than delivers. As good as the music is, post hardcore with swirling guitar lines and a lot of strong parts, her voice distracts me from everything else around. Its very comforting, even as the music is rocking out aggressively behind her, and her range is amazing. To go into a little more detail about the music, the tempos are mid to slower, though there are some upbeat tempos as well (not super fast, but a decent speed; one fitting for the music they play). The tempos work incredibly well to their advantage, as it gives drummer enough time to create some really intelligent drum lines, and guitarists to go absolutely nuts. Its hard not to hear a riff or drum line that doesn't pique the ear. Add that to Emily's angelic voice, and you have a band that has more than lived up to the hype that seems to be surrounding them. I predict huge things from them in the future."
"So several people have told me Holy Roman Empire is really good. Here’s the part where I agree: The band, which includes seasoned veterans of hardcore Neeraj Kane (Suicide File, Hope Conspiracy), Jay Jencetic (Arma Angelus), Geoff Reu (Killing Tree) and Tony Tintari (Rise Against, Shai Hulud) wrote some pretty solid music and performed it very well. The producers, Matt Allison and Neil Hennessy, did a fine job producing and mixing. Now here’s the part where I disagree: Holy Roman Empire’s debut album, The Longue Durée, isn’t bad. For the most part it’s just boring. I could hear songs like these anywhere on Top 40 radio. The music tries to be powerful and passionate. Because everyone who created this album knew what they were doing musically, parts of this attempt are successful. There’s a lot of quick-strumming and aura-establishing guitars, interplay of instruments, and big, song-ending musical build-ups. But all this wears a little thin after about eight tracks. Despite being the best part of the album, the instrumental portion plays background to Emily Schambra’s vocals. And while she is a naturally talented vocalist, I’m not particularly concerned with talent. This is punk, not Top 40 radio; talent is incidental. It’s more important the singer be passionate. Emily’s vocals come across pretty flat, like she’s singing just to sing, not to express anything. She sings about being ‘so fucking angry’ in the same exact way she sings about being ‘hollow’ and ‘vanishing.’ The vocals not only seem removed from the lyrical content, but from the band as well. Sometimes I felt like the band could breakout and do something cool, but they kept toning down to allow for vocals, thereby sounding like a really talented backup band most of time. So with this much emphasis on vocals, the lyrics should be great. But they’re not; they’re so not. Every song is essentially about the same thing – some problem in some relationship. Or something…I really have no idea what the lyrics are describing. They’re so vague, they border on pointless. Plenty of bands write fairly simplistic lyrics, but at least I get what’s going on. At least they have something real to say. If you’re going to go describing vague feelings, you need concrete details and imagery. I love when I listen to music and feel like I can relate, or at the very least appreciate the writer’s experience – and I just don’t get that with this album. The truth is, good producers can make this album with good musicians. It’s got all the quality, but that’s not what I look for in an album. That’s not why I listen to punk music. I listen to punk for the honesty and heart and that just doesn’t come across on here."
"With members laying claim to previous outfits like Rise Against, the Hope Conspiracy, Shai Hulud, the Killing Tree and Arma Angelus, Holy Roman Empire is literal post-hardcore. What's convenient about this is that, aside from the soaring vocals of frontwoman Emily Schambra (ex-Longdistancerunner herself), Holy Roman Empire comes off like the modern day Texas Is the Reason -- big hooks, gigantic guitars and an emotional resonance wrapped in a modest delivery and pristine production. Obviously, Schambra is meant to be one of the highlights, and while she's certainly got an alluring, impressive voice, if we set the bar at Maura Davis, let's say Schambra is Caithlin de Marrais. That's not to say Schambra's a detracting factor -- she's fully capable of singing strong melodies and hitting neck-craning pitches, and manages to move along well with the flowing, rock-anchored instrumentation of her bandmates. However, Schambra is admittedly outshone a little bit by said bandmates, who craft active, crisp and interchanging leads, from chunky rock riffs to atmospheric chords. They lay a pulsating, pounding base for the chorus of Schambra's musings on "Hail Mary," a heavier set of Sunny Day Real Estate vibes on the moody "An Alliance of Thieves," and simple fretboard flicks for the grasping arena indie rock of opener "Undeserving You." Their ringing chords matched up with Schambra endearingly singing "I can let this go / I can mess this up / anywhere with anyone / but I can't go on without you" in "Shatter Historic" is absolutely gorgeous -- maybe even The Longue Durée's best moment. It's been a while since we heard the beautiful guitar textures Matt Allison is capable of producing, as heard on the Lawrence Arms' 2003 masterpiece, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and teamed up with TLA drummer Neil Hennessy here he does it again, converting Holy Roman Empire's chops into a versatile array of sounds. It seems like it's just what the band needed. The Longue Durée has enough things going for it: it's as solid a debut full-length can usually be produced; its style is a pleasant surprise considering its members' preceding projects; and it could be a great breakout release for Hewhocorrupts, Inc. However, Holy Roman Empire seem poised to certainly make a mark with it themselves -- they're surely deserving based on its merits."
"Imagine intricately melodic guitar noodling, the warm but sometimes eruptive atmosphere of Sunny Day Real Estate and Superchunk, alternarock production, and explosively talented female vocals. It's hard to imagine, and that's what makes Holy Roman Empire's great sound that much more impressive. The music is precise and quintessential melodic post-punk, but it's Emily Schambra's vocals that steal the show. There are overdubbing and echo effects, but they're unnecessary - she is exceptionally naturally talented, with a stunning, powerful set of lungs. What's interesting is that she doesn't rely on sultriness or sweetness to be successful - her enormous voice speaks for itself, you can say, and it will knock you over."
"Holy Roman Empire is a stand out band if for no other reason than the sum of its parts. HRE is a band comprised of former members of The Hope Conspiracy, Shai Hulud, Rise Against, and Arma Angelus. By glancing at that short list of hardcore all star bands, you’d probably think this was going to be a melodic hardcore super group. But you’d be pretty far off. Other than the stories they may tell you after they get off stage of their previous bands, there are no similarities, no ties, nothing. HRE is a sometimes poppy, sometimes spacey rock band fronted by Emily Schambra (who’s vocals were highlighted on Rise Against’s Sufferer & Witness) that runs the gamut of rock sounds. I swear, anything you could want from a rock band is somewhere on this record. There’s some slow songs, some fast songs, and some that fluctuate enough to please anyone. The band behind Emily is as much of a pleasure as her vocals are. There are very few bands that you could say “man, this would sound amazing with or without vocals” but that is how Holy Roman Empire is, so well arranged. Their guitar tones were all you could ever ask for and more, but when you’ve got such experienced axe-men as Neeraj Kane and Jay Jancetic, it’s to be expected. But it’s not all guitars, the rhythm section, held down by Tony Tintari and Geoff Reu is pretty solid. Pushing the band forward, as with most bands, is the singer, Emily. Her vocals are powerful, yet almost vulnerable at times. However, as much as I liked this record, I couldn’t help but notice on some of the songs that there was a pretty striking comparison to Paramore. For those familiar with Haley and the rowdy bunch of TN kids known as Paramore, Holy Roman Empire is somewhat like a more experimental version of Paramore, almost as if they were the hardcore/indie kid’s version of the band. But that’s not a bad thing at all, I’m a very big fan of Paramore, so HRE’s The Longue Duree was a treat for me. For those unfamiliar with Paramore, HRE could easily be summed up like this, a high energy poppy punk band with female vocals that also has a little bit of a flair for slower material. There’s enough rock sensibility in this album to hook in a lot of fans, though I don’t know how widely accepted of an album it will be. Though there are multiple cuts off of the record that could be used as singles or video songs. Tim McIlrath of Rise Against appears doing guest vocals on this album, on the track “Mute Hearts”, which would be a perfect video song, as would “The Ace”."
Rise and Revolt
"The first time I heard The Long Durée was driving back from the Holy Roman Empire's record release party. I was lucky enough to accompany a friend's band that was also playing and they invited me along. That was a nice gesture on their behalf since they knew I was a fan. Anyway, on some stretch of highway between Wisconsin and Minnesota someone quipped to me that the only reason I like Holy Roman Empire is because they have a girl singer. This little remark troubled me for the rest of the ride home. Because, if anything the majority of my record collection is almost free of the novelty of bands with a female handling the vocals. Sure there's an Ashes tape lying somewhere in a closet and I do own a couple of Samuel seven inches. I even liked Fifth Hour Hero's last album. However, for the most part I usually stray away from female led rock bands. It's not really any fault of the female rocker population out there. I just personally don't like anything those types of bands have to offer. You aren't going to see me get into Paramore any time soon. And even though I liked a few Denali tracks, I haven't spent hours in record stores trying to acquire their back catalog. The thing is with most bands with lady crooners is that they are either too poppy (Paramore) or too indie (Denali). Don't even get me started on the cute country of Rilo Kiley or the multitude of screamers in token metalcore bands out there. I just don't like it. Sorry, ladies. Holy Roman Empire, I like. I enjoy them a lot actually and obviously it has nothing to do with the fact that their singer, Emily Schambra, happens to have a XX pairing of chromosomes. The reason I like Holy Roman Empire is the fact they sound like some of favorite bands of all time. The Long Durée is chock of full of Texas is the Reason type riffs coupled with a few Promise Ring guitar noodles. Almost every song on the album uses the classic 90's emo soft/loud combination that results in a swirling mixture of poppy rhythms paired with loud riffs that will no doubt get stuck in our skull for weeks on end. I think it's just awesome that there are bands out there still playing this style of indie rock that actually rocks. Sure it helps that their singer likes to warm up to Kelly Clarkson hits, nevertheless, if this band had Garrett Klahn part II singing I would like them all the same. I hear so much that I enjoy on The Long Durée, from the discordant bombast of Jawbox to the repetitive choruses of Samiam to the sullen dynamics of Mineral. Holy Roman's influences may be shown clearly on their sleeves but they also take them and make them all their own. The Long Durée is a great album. It will surely make my 2007 end of list. It might even crack the top 10. It has nothing to do with the fact that Holy Roman Empire has a powerful female vocalist. It has to with the fact that the whole band makes powerful loud pop-filled indie rock that reminds of the heyday of Jade Tree Records. Sometimes people say the dumbest things in vans on long trips home."
Scene Point Blank
"This five piece is based out of Chicago, IL and play indie rock with loads of pop sensibilities and some punk undercurrents here and there. And it is absolutely remarkable how many ties this band has, over 190 fucking hardcore/punk bands. The band actually hasn't been together all that long and prior to releasing this they have released an EP titled "Lost In Landscapes" and a 2006 demo. In all, there are 12-tracks of solid indie rock fronted by a soothing female voice. And I don't usually I don't get down with sung vocals, let alone female vocals. However, Emily Schambra changed that (you may know her from her contributions to Rise Against's "Sufferer And Witness"). The music relies more on catchy pop hooks than anything. The greatest strength of the band is the guitars, which do a good job of layering. I mean there are some darker atmospheric moments now and again. The biggest drawback from the album is the first half of the album absolutely crushes the second half. It seems that the last half of the album lacks the focus and cohesion that the first half provided. Don't get me wrong, the back half isn't bad but it just pales in comparison to the opening tracks. The lyrics are very well written and even though the content revolves mostly around the whole boy/girl thing I was still able to semi-get down with them. I have nothing but good things to say about the recording that was done at Atlas Studios. This thing sounds as if they had a big recording budget (while I'm sure it was sufficient, it certainly wasn't as big as a major label). The guitars sound absolutely fantastic and the recording only strengthens the bands strong point of layering. The bass tone is gorgeous and has plenty of room in the mix. The drums are very warm sounding and were mixed wonderfully with the bass. The vocals have some effects and here that were worked in nicely and they have great placement. There’s a very streamlined layout that is printed on matte stock paper. The layout is very clean and eloquent and uses a nice range of earthy tones. The front cover looks like the front of a book or something with a sweet illustration of a fruit tree thats trunk serves as a sand clock. The inside of the booklet was very well designed and presents the lyrics in an easy to read format. The green borders used on the front cover encase the lyrics in the booklet. The background is the same off-set white color used on the front cover. Rating: 3/5. Songs Worthy of Replay: An Alliance of Thieves and The Ace. Synopsis: This usually isn't my bread and butter, I tend to shy away from these types of releases. I mean I listen to some Get Up Kids and Sunny Day Real Estate but I'm not really too big into indie rock. But this isn't too bad and I got myself tapping my feet here and there. One of the big problems though with this album is it starts to lose its momentum after the first handful of tracks. Afterwards it seems to be a lot of filler. I would be interested to see how this band matures down the road. Check out some tracks @ http://www.myspace.com/holyromanempire If you like what you hear, buy it."
"'The Longue Duree' is an album worth purchasing for the three opening tracks alone; after that everything else is a welcome bonus. From the first few bars of 'Undeserving You', which will lure you straight in with an infectious hook and remain with you for days, to the soaring guitars opening 'The Ace' and filling-out 'An Alliance of Thieves' - already deserving of much larger venues than they have played to date - and on through the wistful 'Olympus' to pop-punk-grew-up 'Fire Drill' and the epic 'Vicarious Haunting', this is a record which will not leave your playlists for weeks. And you won't want it to. Emily Schambra's astonishingly powerful voice - which appears effortless live - ranges from the fiercely passionate to the haunting ('Shatter Historic' works phenomenally in the dark), and gives Holy Roman Empire an enormous advantage over their contemporaries. Distinctive and clearly talented, recent comparisons to other female-fronted acts cannot do them justice. Some may try to toss this act in the same boat as Paramore, with a slightly less pop sound. But I think after truly sitting in and hearing the numerous indie-rock tones tossed into Holy Roman Empire’s equation, crowds will see otherwise. And if you’re not into female fronted rock bands this certainly won’t change your mind."
"HRE is for real. Sure former members of Suicide File, Rise Against/Shai Hulud, and Arma Angelus is enough to raise an initial eyebrow but from the first note of the record you know this isn't another floundering act getting by on scenepoints and name dropping. Emily's pipes are honest, emotional, and very accessible. There's a uniqueness from the onslaught of cookie cutter female vocalists out there yet a familiarity that easily has her keeping up and at times surpassing the boys. Musically the groups claims to pull from Quicksand, Sensefield, The Cure, and SDRE"
"This band actually reminds me a whole lot of the direction my former band Mir was headed in. Female vocals with Hum, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Jimmy Eat World outer cores are blended nicely with post-hardcore blitzes of heaviness. You may have heard singer Emily Schambra before on her performance on Rise Against’s “The Sufferer & the Witness”. In addition some of their members have been in such groups as the Hope Conspiracy, Shai Hulud, and Arma Angelus. Their landmark debut received huge accolades from a wide range of critics and for reason as “Lost In Landscapes” was an indie rock epic of an EP. This shattering debut full-length finds the group easily cutting their teeth on pop hooks, churning guitars, and enchanting melodic vocals. This is one of the best of the year hands down."