Holy Roman Empire - The Longue Durée (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Holy Roman Empire

The Longue Durée (2007)

Hewhocorrupts, Inc.

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.

An Alliance of Thieves