- Label: 'Trisol Music Group'
- Genre: 'Folk'
- Release Date: '29th January 2021'
ROME have maintained a remarkable work rate of late, with ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ following just months after ‘The Lone Furrow’ and the ambient ‘Gärten Und Strassen’, and what’s more, they’re on fine form here, packing in 12 songs to create what they call ‘a tongue-in-cheek, punk rock cry for freedom of expression!’ It’s certainly a further step away from the neofolk stylings more commonly associated with the band, and is a world away from the more traditional folk of 2019’s ‘The Dublin Sessions’. That doesn’t mean it’s not heavily steeped in recognisable elements of folk, but here, Jérôme Reuter leads his comrades through a set that’s more 80s alternative in its leanings, resulting in an album of protest music that’s often in the vein of New Model Army.
And it IS a protest album, a rallying cry against totalitarianism trampling democracy as large parts of Europe and, indeed, the West more widely, lunges further toward the right, and social division threatens irreparable damage.
The title track is a seriously strong opener, with a strummed acoustic verse dominated by a ragged vocal with Reuter stirring a battling spirit before powering into a chorus truly worthy of the ‘anthemic’ tag. Hot on its heels, ‘Born in the E.U.’ may not be a cover, but there are clear Springsteen overtones, and it’s an instant earworm. Describing the song as ‘an ironic retort to the blue-collar communities and blind nationalism’, it finds Reuter accepting and working within the contradictions of a pride in one’s birthplace while acknowledging its failings and shortcomings.
‘Death From Above’ has more of an 80s rock feel to it, while ‘Feral Agents’ is a drum-driven gloomer that calls to mind ‘Pornography’ era Cure, and what’s remarkable about ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ is just how packed it is with instant classics. The Teutonic tones of ‘Panzerschokolade’ are propelled by a relentless marching drum. Part DAF, part Rammstein, it’s dark and dense and compelling – and rhyming ‘scooby snacks’ with ‘panzer tracks’ without sounding like a tit is a major achievement.
The power of ‘Parlez-Vous Hate?’ lies in the passion that radiates from its every line and every bar. It’s an album that’s not short on rage and fury, but is also brimming with humanity and sincerity. There is frustration and despair, but it’s countered by optimism, and sends a message of empowerment and a call for unity in these troubled, and troubling times. We need this right now.