Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Rose Rovine E Amanti - Demian

Rose Rovine E Amanti are not afraid to show their influences: Rituale Romanum, their previous album on Cold Spring, was heavily indebted to Von Thronstahl in terms of music and artwork. Early and Unreleased Songs, a short-run release of demos and outtakes, carried a thing for David Bowie. Demian, their second album for Cold Spring, continues these influences, along with nods to Leonard Cohen and Jacques Brel.

Demian is an earnest and spirited release, marrying the above influences with Mercuri's solid guitar playing. The neo-folk compositions of Demian draw on Catholicism, to which Mercuri adds tantalising Mediterranean warmth. Mercuri plays to his strengths throughout. He appears much more confident and relaxed. Right from the off the upbeat mediaeval classical sounds of 'Il Gatto Osserva' he's in strong voice, laughing theatrically at points. From then on the track 'Rose Rovine E Amanti' is classic European neo-folk, with Mercuri's fine-picked guitar playing. Switching between soft female vocals courtesy of Noemi York and the emotive voice of Mercuri over passages of mandolin it's a particularly strong and effective track.

The plaintive neo-folk strum of 'Il Grande Tradimento' steals an introduction from Leonard Cohen, and a lyrical nod to 'Soldato Cristiano' from Rituale Romanum, while the acoustic strum of 'From Desperation To Victory' is joined with some effective electric guitar chords. Mercuri is in fine voice on Demian, switching effortlessly between Italian and English, making full use of his melodic tones. 'Mille Serpi' is heavy on the accents carrying a strong Italian flavour but it's not my favourite. There's almost a cabaret feel to the rich romantic tones of 'Noi Ritorneremo'. With its tinkering piano notes, and Weimar strings it captures that post-war feel that Italians, like fellow countrymen IANVA, are so adept at.

A number of tracks take a heavier approach to their neo-folk balladry. 'The End of the World' and 'Demian' are powerful pieces of dark folk with a thunderous performance redolent of Sol Invictus, with 'Demian' even managing to swipe some lines from Brel's 'My Death'. 'Paura Del Demonio' has passages of surging electric guitar work amidst the acoustic strum.

I enjoyed their previous release, Rituale Romanum, but Demian is much better. Mercuri takes advantage of his classically trained guitar playing to create a far more varied outlet for his rich, dramatic compositions. Rituale Romanum derived much of its appeal from its guests (Josef K., Belborn...) and their connection with Von Thronstahl. Demian doesn't need to rely on others as Rose Rovine E Amanti have really come into their own on this one. All in all it's a surprisingly mature and coherent release that will surely garner Rose Rovine E Amanti a number of admirers. For more information go to