Trillionaire – Romulus Review

The commencement of 2021 is the beginning of the end of law school for yours truly. Much of my time was, and remains, spent asking questions. The early questions were about what constituted consideration, what can someone do with Blackacre, and what on Earth was going on in Rylands v Fletcher. Now my questions are more pointed, such as what specific right is protected by what’s often called the Lumley v Gye tort. When I was in my first year, I couldn’t envision asking such a question. Two and one-half academic years later, I’ve got more questions than answers. Adding to this litany of questions is one that has nothing to do with law, philosophy, hamburgers, Live in Leipzig, beer, or any of those things I frequently write about. This question is as follows: what would happen if The Haunted circa Unseen wanted to make something like newer Thrice and Saliva?

Chances are this isn’t your first AMG review, so you’re probably guessing the answer to my question above is “Trillionaire would happen” and you would be correct. Just so the reader knows, this is a supergroup of sorts featuring members (and ex-members) of Revocation, KEN Mode, and Inter Arma, among others. Not that this matters of course — we listen to music, not names, and good names can’t save terrible music. Is Romulus terrible? Not necessarily. Everyone involved is in the upper echelons of musical ability by the sounds of it, and while leaning too close to Sirius XM Octane-core for my liking the production framing the music gets the job done and allows everyone’s talents to be adequately heard.

Unfortunately, Trillionaire has moments of quality scattered about a slapdash structure that makes a lot of loud noises but appears to lack purpose, direction, and cohesion. Issues emerge quickly with opener “The Golden Goat,” which runs out of ideas a little over a minute before it runs out of music. While the song itself is based around a decent verse and chorus, the closing coda manages to detract from the whole by coming across as superfluous. “Dead by 25” fares better by sounding like a cross between Unseen and Survival of the Sickest,1 but instead of making a concise song like “Unseen” Trillionaire makes a three-minute song four-and-one-half minutes by shoehorning in a pointless quieter part with no compelling or memorable features. In “Underwater” Trillionaire makes the baffling decision to incessantly repeat a chorus for two minutes straight and lets the last note fade out for twenty seconds — this all takes place within a four-minute song.

With some better writing and focus, Romulus could’ve been a quality modern rock record with metal overtones. Instead, the embrace of pejorative “progressive” clichés like overextension of runtime and an incessant need for “soft” parts to feign dynamics in composition dooms Trillionaire to utter forgettability. This is a shame because vocalist Renee Fontaine has a good set of pipes and, when he’s not bizarrely trying to ape U-God’s flow in “Yes, Mistress,”2 he delivers with the modern metalcore grit of Architects’ Sam Carter on “Temple of Mercy,” an otherwise forgettable and overlong metal-tinged rock number. When “One in the Chamber” decides to kick in after a meandering introduction, Fontaine does a great job with his phrasing and melodies, but as usual, the runtime outlasts the worthwhile material in the song.

I end this review with more questions than when I started. Who is Romulus for? The average rock fan will be bored by songs gratuitously long and meanderingly structured. Prog fans won’t find enough of interest here, because at the base this is merely an overlong metal-tinged hard rock record played by truly talented musicians. Why can’t Trillionaire capitalize on their good ideas? “We Are the Devil” deep-sixes its hard-earned energy and drive by a subsequent extended “dynamic” part that does largely uninteresting things both loudly and quietly. From there it loses the plot further and chugs along with Unseen outtake riffs. How long can buildup go on before the climax suffers? Some amount of time less than in “Northern Lights,” which has a solid climax that’s an absolute chore to reach. Can I recommend Romulus? Parts of individual songs, absolutely — and that’s a major problem when considering a whole record.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nefarious Industries
Websites: |
Released Worldwide: January 29th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I’ll admit to liking both records.
  2. Compare the loudly spoken parts of this song with U-God’s verse at about 0:48 in “Heads Up” from his 2013 record The Keynote Speaker. In my opinion, this is his best solo release by a wide margin.
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