Roman Traffic
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Roman Traffic

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Music That Needs To Be Heard"

“The Mirror” opens with jingly acoustic guitars containing an obvious country quality which pair with pulsing keyboards before singer Benjamin Grenville bursts in followed by searing electric guitars. It is quite the opening to the track and not quite what you would expect from a band of this caliber. [Roman Traffic] have never been ones to be pigeonholed into a genre and they have certainly progressed quite a bit since the post-hardcore sound of the Perceptions for the Colorblind EP. With their second EP Calico, innovative songwriting and experimentation has placed the band above many of their peers. They exploit layers of distorted guitars and intricate drumming on “Breach” to craft an incredibly captivating piece of music. There is a lot going on in the structure but it keeps its alluring quality and remains a catchy song that is not to be forgotten any time soon. Calico seems to be a small taste of what this band is capable of and if they continue down this path, there is surely a lot to get excited about in the near future.

-- Dave Spak - Decoy Music


Nouveau-progressive metal/punk which, at its very best, evokes the now-obscure but still much-lamented Anastasia Screamed: see, for instance, "Lunatic." In Benjamin Grenville the band has an accomplished vocalist, and we are also treated to expert chops, a hard-edged approach, and a monumental feel that, on this track, at least, feels fully earned rather than merely assumed. On the whole, this is a maturely conceived and well-arranged set of songs that improves with every listen. Nearly every track is at least a minor gem. This is definitely a band to watch.

-- Francis DiMenno - The Noise


New Hampshire quintet [Roman Traffic] are a prog rock meets post punk troupe along the likes of Cave In or Dredg whose latest seven-track affair is an overwhelming effort chock full of bells and whistles. But don’t let the band’s adventurous overtones a la Rush or Muse deter you, as CALICO contains just as many memorable moments (”If You Can, When You Can”) as it does superfluous shredding. Resonating with a Mars Volta meets Protest the Hero versus Coheed and Cambria ripple, there’s a slew of excessive musical interplay featured on this disc (”Burning Dollars”), almost as much as the amount of intriguing songwriting twists and turns (”Lunatic”) which require repeated listens to fully absorb. Cranially complex yet not completely incomprehensible, [Roman Traffic] have presented a weighty album laden with rhythmic shifts and far away soundscapes yet still bring home an air of catchiness to satisfy all fronts. - Gears of Rock

"A Different Boston Champion..."

[Roman Traffic] is a five piece band hailing from the gracious Boston musical scene. Their style is hard to pin down, but can be described as a mix between progressive and post-punk rock. Sound intriguing? It is. On their sophomore self-released EP, "Calico," [Roman Traffic] prove themselves as one of the stronger up-and-coming hard rock bands in the country.

The album opens with "The Mirror," and it's near spaghetti western banjo and violin experimentation meets hypnotic keyboard rhythms. Singer Benjamin Grenville comes crashing in with his exceptional vocals. His voice is original, refreshing, as he fills the song with strong passionate melodies. The electric guitars slide on in to the mix to escalate the intensity. Wide bursts of guitars float over intricate drumming, shifting rhythms and melodies, reminiscent of Boston's very own Cave In (post-Jupiter years). "Lunatic" follows with another hard driving shifting rhythm from the drums, but this time the guitars crash like waves and expand off into all directions. Grenville's vocals even sort of bring to mind Cave In's Stephen Brodsky, but in no way is this a rip-off. Like their Boston peers, [Roman Traffic] excel in all aspects of what they do, and do so quite confidently. Surges of distortion push the guitars, keys, and bass until the song's completion.

"If You Can, When You Can," continues the ominous and dark vibe, with a staggering rhythm and sharp, snappy, angular guitars and keyboards. Grenville's vocals soar in and out of higher territory, similar to the range of Ours' Jimmy Gnecco. A great release of the guitars leads to a simple vocal and drum breakaway before the pace is picked back up with odd time signatures and twinkling guitars. If you are a fan of intense, complex, cerebral, and brooding rock music, this is a band you're not going to want to miss. "Serpentine," drifts in next, with a strong bass line and more impressive drumming to compliment. While the other songs have creative structures that don't leave much room for a chorus, this track delivers an exceptionally memorable hook including double tracked vocals for added effect. The track ends with an atmospheric haze that washes straight into "Breach." Thickly layered guitars blend with more complex rhythmic turns and flourishes. There is a space rock quality to their sound, mixed with prog and post-punk to make a truly impressive style that's all their own. Even with all the shifts and turns in the instrumentation, Gravehaven manage to create another strong chorus in the midst of the mayhem.

"Burning Dollars," marches in with heavy drums before short reverb soaked guitars push and pull into the mix. The seemingly calm track briefly storms around in a frenzy not uncommon to The Mars Volta. Cymbals crash, distortion drifts, and the vocals come soaring above everything in a dramatic contrast to the chaos of the music. Another atmospheric ending, the calm after the storm, brings the song to a close. The acoustic driven "Revive" fades right in to close out this excellent EP. There are all sorts of interesting keyboard effects throughout and heavily featured here. With a shoegaze type emotional daze, this song is a perfect way to come to an end. As the constantly shifting musical journey races to a close, [Roman Traffic] induce a dream state that only ends in more chaotic creative aggression. This young band clearly has a masterpiece in them, and if this isn’t it already, it’s damn close.

-- Dan Goldin - Exploding In Sound

"Boston Rockers Stir Up Progressive Mix"

Binghamton's Voodoo Lounge will plug in the big-city music scene Saturday when Boston's prog-rocking Gravehaven storms into town.

Out in support of their latest EP, "Calico," the five-piece band with New Hampshire roots has left its high school punk days of the late '90s behind. Flash forward to the addition of passionate Boston singer-songwriter Benjamin Grenville and a turn to Rush/Yes/Mars Volta.

Gravehaven has garnered increasing accolades since their debut EP, "Perceptions for the Colorblind," in 2006 and on the strength of extensive East Coast touring. "Calico" finds them awash in reverb- and distortion-layered guitars, tempo switch-ups and atmospheric sorties. Then, throw in banjo, mandolin, Wurlitzer and Mellotron for good measure.

Assumptions would be misleading here - the seven songs' cerebral affirmations belie any dark images the name Gravehaven might stir up.

Slinging slick six-string chops are Evan Crisman and Alex Brahms, who "Calico" showcases straightaway with a banjo-mandolin face-off on the opener, "The Mirror." While Grenville warns about being "stuck on a fishing pole," his pipes here and elsewhere occasionally hit the heights of Shinedown's Brent Smith.

The band's metal-shop blacksmiths - bassist Steve Hart and drummer Matt Arsenault - forge heavy, smoking rhythms on "Burning Dollars," about making a stand, and "Serpentine," bombastic but calming like the eye of a storm. As counterweights, Crisman and Brahms invoke bolts of Pink Floyd.

The half-hour CD changes its spots for the mostly-instrumental closer, "Revive," with arty acoustic runs that lull like Grenville's plea in the consoling "Breach" to "calm down."

Calm or driving, Gravehaven's "Calico" signals a state of flux in carving out their identity. But its sophisticated expressions suit this deeply talented group well.

RATING: *** (out of 4 stars) - Star Gazette

"Up & Comers"

Gravehaven is an eclectic mix of the explorations of progressive rock and the urgency of post-punk. Formed in 2005, Gravehaven is made up of Benjamin Grenville on vocals, keys, and acoustics, Evan Crisman on guitar, Alex Brahms also on guitar and vocals, Steve Hart on bass and Matt Arsenault on drums and marimba.

“Evan, Matt, Steve and I all started playing together in middle school,” explained Brahms. “We all learned how to play together. It was tough because we sucked really bad for a few years, but we didn’t even know it. We ended up meeting Ben once we picked up again after college and things took off from there. It’s tough to describe our music because we’re not trying to fit into a certain category, but in general terms I tend to say it’s progressive rock. I’m influenced by a variety of bands that range from the west coast punk rock to ambient instrumental. Strung Out, The Cancer Conspiracy, Stone Temple Pilots, Mock Orange are some of the most influential bands for me that have shaped the kind of musician I am today.”

To date, Gravehaven has released the EP Perceptions for the Colorblind and the full length Calico; both were produced by Kris Smith, who has also worked with the Dropkick Murphys. “Working with Kris on this one was great,” described Brahms. “We knew what direction we wanted to go in from working on the last EP with him, so it was very helpful having that past experience to help shape this record. Kris really became a key part of the project and very open to working with us on expanding our instrumentation. Everything from us clicking lighters on and off in “Lunatic” to adding banjo and mandolin to the intro in “The Mirrior,” Kris was all about helping us make it a ‘record’ we could be proud of”.

With an east coast tour in works for spring/summer, Gravehaven continues to play close to home in the Central MA area for now ~ and fans can always keep with their happenings and practice sessions through their video blog, which has been a unique, modern DIY way of keeping the fans “in the loop.” “If you’re a fan of our music, it’s a good way to stay connected with us. We have clips from the studio recording of “Calico” as well as new songs we’re working out at our practice space.”

For all things Gravehaven, check out

-- Rebecca Carter - Pulse Magazine

"On Tour with Calico"

Gravehaven’s new album digs into new sounds
By Dana Unger

Gravehaven is a Boston band that has not forgotten its New Hampshire pedigree. The five members of this progressive rock and punk outfit continue to cultivate fans in the Granite State as they tour New England in support of their new album, Calico.

“Four of us are from Nashua, and one is from Milford,” said guitarist Evan Crisman in a Jan. 8 interview from Boston. “We all kind of went to college down here and have been playing Boston for a while, but we always like to play New Hampshire.”

The band is out in full force to support their new release. They will appear on the Scorch show on MCAM TV-23 on Monday, Feb. 2, and will follow that up with a performance at Milly’s Tavern in Manchester on Saturday, Feb. 7, along with Kid:Nap:Kin, The Cambiata, The Vital Might and The States.

Gravehaven got their start playing around New Hampshire and Boston venues like T.T. the Bear’s and The Middle East and, perhaps not so surprisingly, they found the two scenes quite different.

“There’s a lot more clubs down here,” Crisman said. “It’s more of a 21-plus crowd. In New Hampshire, there’s a lot more kids that seem to be interested in us. I grew up playing at places like Cafe Eclipse and Lions Club shows and legion halls.”

The band has put out two self-released albums, including 2006’s Perceptions for the Colorblind, which garnered national and local press. The band’s new album, Calico, seeks to bring Gravehaven’s sound to a new level. The 2008 studio release was produced by Kris Smith, who has worked with bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Olympia, and mixed by Matthew Ellard, who has mixed for Morphine and Converge.

“We released one CD that was more of a post-punk sound – heavier and faster and a lot less song-oriented,” Crisman said. “This new one is pretty much all about the songs — the production was better, and just in all the work we put into it. We try to stay true.”

Though the band tries to keep to its hard-rocking, punk sound, Calico sees Gravehaven experimenting with new sounds and instruments, including mandolin, mellotron, banjo, Wurlitzer and some acoustic instruments.

“It’s helped the overall sound,” Crisman said. “There was something that was missing from our first [album] and we all knew it.

So we said, let’s go for it. We had a mellotron that we wanted to use badly and were able to. We went down and played Dewy Beach and got compared to The Pogues, so our spectrum has really broadened.”

The band keeps fans updated with an ongoing photo and video blog, where they documented the recording of their new album as well as their current tour.

“With this CD we did a lot more video documenting,” Crisman said. “We had a guy named Cody doing a documentary from day one and put up a blog for the CD. We figured it worked with Barack Obama.”

Documenting the recording process for the album also became an important tool for the band itself.

“We got videos all along the way,” Crisman said. “We could self-edit what we wanted to use, so we could see what was working and what wasn’t. It helped us to understand what we like, what we don’t, and what we want to do next time.”

The band’s influences and the comparisons they get cross the spectrum of musical genres.

“We have a big range of what we like,” Crisman said. “We get comparisons to Muse and even Mars Volta, but the bands that we like are more in the songwriting realm and that’s where we’d like to go. All the bands we play with now are great — there are so many in Boston that are overlooked.”

Crisman also says that bands like his try to help each other navigate the waters of Boston’s music scene.

“If there’s a mutual respect between two bands, they’ll help each other out,” Crisman said. “We’ll try and get them shows, and they’ll try and get us shows. There’s never any bad blood. It’s all about music. We really try and support each other.”

This year, the band’s focus has been primarily set on the new CD, getting the music out to as many audiences as possible, and continuing the momentum they’ve built for themselves.

“The last two years was a lot of recording,” Crisman said. “We were like ‘let’s get this CD out there and show people what we can do, and then go out and play as many shows as we could’ — which I think we accomplished. We just want to play as much as we can.” - The Hippo Press

"Rumble Victory"

"The boys in [Roman Traffic] took home the second night of the 31st annual Rock N Roll Rumble last night at the Middle East. [Roman Traffic] could come out of this thing with the most exposure gained as they waltz into the semis – their heavily melodic, rip-tight progressive rock suggests a steady career ahead without reliance on fickle trends." - The Boston Herald - The Boston Herald

"Calico Review"

"This promising Boston band plays catchy and melodic hard rock with contemporary flourishes and production. There are no fancy guitar soloists or overly complicated song structures, yet these guys flat-out rock, and man, can they sing.

Don't let the opening fool you. Banjo and mandolin kick off "The Mirror," and I really like how they introduce the vocals then the rhythm section. All very self-assured, with a fantastic bridge. The band proceeds relentlessly and passionately while interjecting some moodiness, particularly on the excellent closer, "Revive." Here, acoustic guitars shimmer and keys come to the fore, building to a glorious climax. "Burning Dollars" smokes, and the segue from "Serpentine" into "Breach" is a brilliant production moment. "Lunatic" is another highlight - the song gets more manic as it rolls along. This is the kind of rock that keeps you young." - Rick Tvedt - Progression Magazine


Three Four (2009)
Calico (2008)
Perceptions for the Colorblind (2006)



*2010 Sonicbids Listen Vol 6 Compilation
*2009 104.1 WBCN Rock 'n Roll Rumble Semi-Finalist
*2009 Discmakers "Discover" compilation
*2009 Dewey Beach Music Conference
*2009 Exploding in Sound: Bands You Need to Know Collection
*2008 Harpoon Brewery’s Best Unfiltered Band Finalist
*2008 Dewey Beach Music Conference
*2008 104.1 WBCN Boston Emissions Favorite Disc List: Calico

With the start of 2010, so began the most challenging yet invigorating time in the history of Roman Traffic. Having recently changed their namesake, the band parted ways with their original vocalist, with whom they repeatedly toured the east coast and self-released two acclaimed EPs. To many, the series of events appeared to signal the end of a long run for the Boston-based group. Internally though, there was never any doubt that the band would carry on.

By that summer, Roman Traffic had joined forces with vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Christopher Mongillo, to find and develop the band’s new sound. The chemistry was obvious. September 2010 marked the official return of Roman Traffic with a brand new digital release and a series of highly-anticipated performances in and around Boston.

"[Roman Traffic’s] heavily melodic, rip-tight progressive rock suggests a steady career ahead without reliance on fickle trends." - The Boston Herald