Rome in Monochrome – AbyssUs (Art Gates Records)

Wednesday, 6th December 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Born in Italy, Rome in Monochrome describe their brand of music as ‘ghost metal’ – incorporating a mix of post rock, doom metal, and dark progressive metal. The sextet develops an intriguing blend of styles for this debut album AbyssUs, where track by track the atmosphere can change in an instant from somber, reflective solace to powerful, electric intensity. Guests include Yasmin Kalach of In the Mood and Alexander Högbom of October Tide to add vocal color to specific cuts, but the crux of the band’s songwriting and performance delight sits squarely on the shoulders of these main musicians – the eight tracks wistfully casting shadows into these emotions and painful memories much like their influence bank of Opeth, Katatonia, and others in that category.

Occasional circular spirals of music drift beyond into intoxicating passages of beauteous wonderment. Listen to the closing minute-plus instrumental to softer vocal melody sequence for “Post You” where the lead break takes on David Gilmour-like proportions next to calmer Gaetano Savoca driven piano parts, as Valerio Granieri measures his words in a thoughtful mirror aligned to the musical mood. Heaviness meets darkness on the subsequent “A Tomb Beyond the Furthest Star”, an over nine-minute arrangement where the contrasts keep hairs standing on edge – equal parts doom, progressive, and post-rock present – Alexander possessing that extra layer of desperation vocally to match the melancholic turned brutal proceedings while the dual guitar action of Marco Paparella and Gabriel Sassone mutates seamlessly as called for. The broader strokes painted with the longer time frames (average song hitting the six-minute mark) allow the pace of songs to unfold in twisted ways – sometimes progressive in a haunting manner for “Sedatives”, while post-rock through an alternative way before the distortion bursts hit like a tidal wave during “Antiheart”. The production values also subscribe to bit more of a distant, dirtier feel – you can feel the grime and grit next to the mix of diverse, morose to extreme melodies that take place.

One can imagine Rome in Monochrome best experienced in a dreary club atmosphere – low level lights as waves of fog envelope the stage while the band performs the main tracks of AbyssUs. The breadth plus depth of emotion pouring out will appease many who love the work of the progressive side of Opeth, and all facets of Katatonia.

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