Review: Good Romans – Open This Door, Never Look Back

Good Romans - Open This DoorA delicate feedback starts to leak into “Ode For Spar” about halfway through, and it’s as though a clamshell is opening up to let the reflective light of the pearl glare softly outward; a soft glow parting the rumble of water pressure that feels (rather eerily) like my own stomach churning beneath me, bubbling and grunting with digestive tract anticipation. Guitar murmurs and trails off – sentences abandoned by deviating thought – and the whole piece feels hazed and distracted; obscured by the murk of too much introspection, rendered limp and water-like by lethargy.

“Open This Door, Never Look Back”. The second track snaps into life and I resurface immediately – synapses flashing, snare drums crisp and frantic. I’m thrust into contrast with even a moment’s hesitation to consider the transition, and such abrupt mutations of environment start to become Good Romans’ mode of choice: the limping ballad of “Smiling No” (which sounds like a one legged man negotiating a spiral staircase descent, keys tethered to trousers and jangling with every successful step) suddenly emerges as “Sejm”, whose patient deliberation (beautiful chords picked out of rustling percussion winds) sounds like a sporadic, carefully arranged firework display far in the distance; in turn, this seizes up into the antagonistic “Moha Rave”, which sounds like Filander crunching distortion up into balls of foil and then hurling them and Miettola’s flailing drums.

Indeed, something unknown is happening in the silence between tracks – a memory wipe that flushes the emotional and physical after-burn of the immediate past, allowing for a thorough immersion in the new present. There is no core around which Good Romans circulate – no point of serenity to which they return after a momentary flash of catharsis, or inversely, no climactic peak retrieved after lulls of recharge – and Open This Door, Never Look Back probes its landscapes untethered, free to mutate and become without fear of leaking essence or identity in the process.