Taking a punt on a band you’ve heard of but never paid much attention to is one of the joys of this hobby (Job would infer payment, which I can assure you, dear reader, doesn’t happen!!) A case in point is Hegemonikon, the 17th album by Rome, the band created and crafted by Luxembourg-born mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Jerome Reuter in 2005.
Rome – Hegemonikon (Trisol Music Group)
Release Date: 25 November 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
Hegemonikon is only 37 minutes in length, but the 11 songs that are on offer provide a stunningly unique and interesting blend of electronica, industrial, folk, and post-punk synths. It’s evident that Reuter has no boundaries or limits, his creativity unbounded.
Whilst I’ve seen a list of descriptors about Rome’s music, Chanson noir, post-industrial, Avant-pop, and new folk, being just a few, the best way to describe this album is individual. Each song is at odds with the previous track, the variation stimulating and intriguing, and yet they all hang together perfectly in both order and style. The dark opening of A Slaughter Of Crows brings ominous shadows, an industrial stomp and harrowing imagery. It’s balanced by No Second Troy, which has the opposite vibe with an upbeat, bouncing beat, despite the lyrical content.
There is ample use of analogue synths, dramatic guitar work and almost gothic vocal delivery on songs like Surely Ash, with its Depeche Mode feel. At times, it’s more narrative than singing, Icarus Rex being a case in point, whilst a couple of shorter pieces bridge songs effectively.
At times Hegemonikon borders on a theatrical soundtrack. The music is dramatic, providing a cinematic soundscape (drink in the beautiful New Flags, which closes the album), with consistent themes of defiance running throughout the record. Lyrically it’s poetic in nature, a crafted work that allows you to dive deep in search of the meanings whilst the gentle yet sinister musical accompaniment dovetails superbly.
With 17 albums under the belt, it’s evident that Rome has the freedom to develop, explore and create. The songs are open, uninhibited, and expansive. Hearts Mend has plenty of comparatives, from the Host era Paradise Lost to the early synth wave of the 1980s new wave movement.
Yet, whilst you naturally search for peers, this is not a band where a linear approach can be taken. You simply must accept that few albums will provide such intricate challenges, such deeply driven storytelling and such absorbing creativity.
Having spent time with Hegemonikon, the desire is now there to dive deep into the Rome catalogue. For those who have been with Rome since the beginning, this must seem folly. Yet isn’t that what music is all about? Discovering and unlocking new sounds is that great joy.
I invite you to do the same, whichever camp you are in. For the uninitiated, this could be the start of a new journey of discovery. For those who are already linked in, the adventure of Rome will no doubt continue.