New Music: Friday Roll Out! With Watch Rome Burn

This week seems harsh, working on deadlines I can only try to reach, family life always taking my time which I’m grateful for, and dealing with a number of deadbeats I wonder, “Why am I dealing with these?” I’ve come to a different realization though: Kevin Hart and I, we’re the same. We both have a great sense of humor, great taste in women, and we’re just so creative. Given, there are differences like his diminutive stature and me standing at 6’2” as well as those facial tattoos he thinks may limit one’s appeal. And in some cases he may be right but he’s much more adamant about that than I am, but for me, just come correct.
I had planned on giving you a number of artists featured this week but we won’t mention their names. A few people dropped the ball here but let’s just call them Jeff The Brotherhood (Dine Alone) and $uicide Boy$. If I can’t provide you with something to whet your whistle on and form your own opinion about an artist, I’d rather not give you anything, although Jeff The Brotherhood’s new release Magick Songs takes the band to a broader playing field. That’s a good one. New Orleans’ $uicide Boy$ holds down that trap music better than most do on I Want To Die In New Orleans there are still too many similarities to most others I just can’t shake. So, we’re left with one lone artist.
I originally thought I didn’t have much information on the brotherly duo Watch Rome Burn, but even with what I have here in front of me, I still find it difficult to fit the band into a cookie cutter box that’s lacking any distinguishing elements. Comprised of the brothers Cummings, Drew (vocals/guitar) and Jestyn (drums/percussion), they seem to make due with what they have, making a racket that’s pretty impactful. Musically, there are two or more sides to the band, who have just released its sophomore effort VOX HERETIC (self-released). On it, these two pacific northwesterners summon up the elemental gods that came before them, drawing from sounds lazy scribes are bound to make lackluster comparisons to but the band’s intensity, along with cutting edginess, shouldn’t be ignored. But really, I can’t imagine the duo giving a rat’s ass what anyone thinks of them because the art comes first. Rarely do I find something of this nature as an expressive indulgence of one’s imagination because while all music is derivative, a soulful expression is usually lacking. Not here though, not by a longshot.
The cold-hearted and monotoned delivery of “Consumed” is pretty unrelenting but it’s the percussion that shouldn’t be ignored when you hear it. The track pretty much eschews any regional influence here. And then there’s “Thief” which takes that same region, embraces, and molests the hell out of it. It takes a moment before you get the fact that Watch Rome Burn is only a 2-piece because the explosiveness of the band makes it sound much broader than it is. “Motley” expounds on the same idea the previous track and holds tightly to that same grittiness but never forsaking melody here. The duo works seamlessly together, crunching instruments against one another but always holding tightly to the track itself. They fall further down the rabbit hole with “On The March,” a dark journey the duo makes, devouring everything in their path. Over-dubbed guitars give way to masterfully changing dynamics, ever so slightly, leaving things loose but tightly wound at the same time! And then things change again.
As the band continues to experiment and grow, no fucks will be given. “Crystalized” slows things down considerably drenched in feedback on occasion and is the group’s crowning pop gem. Breathy vocals, stop/start instrumentation that can crescendo as quickly as it dissipates, and harmonies filling this one makes for an interesting display of creativity. There’s much more to be had here, as semblances of the blues creep into “War Blues” with harmonica and slide guitar, or the dreamy haze of the closing “Up Here.” I think I’ve mentioned a few times this year how I’ve found yet another group that’s fitting my list as one of my favorites and you might think it a mote point to classify Watch Rome Burn into that category but fuck it, VOX HERETIC has made a fan out of me so why not. This is as good as they come.