We Came As Romans - Understanding What We've Grown To Be Record Label: Equal Vision
Release Date: September 13, 2011
It's got to be difficult to be a band like We Came As Romans, being lumped in with the post-screamo whatever-core scene, because if they only accomplished one thing with their sophomore album, it's a definite sense that they are not like their contemporaries. Sure, they may play music that sounds similar, with a comparable level of flair and panache, but there is an underlying sense of optimism to these songs--and not just the pretty parts.
Dual vocals aren't even a gimmick anymore, and juxtaposing soaring melodies with gutteral screams hasn't been new in decades, but We Came As Romans has an excellent sense of how to best use each member to maximize the impact of the song. Furious drumming, tricky, technical guitar parts, synth pads and squawks, both vocalists handling their part admirably, all of it wrapped in a slick production job...and yet somehow it never sounds contrived. Somehow, under the veneer, beyond the grandiosity and predictability of formula, it's still possible to hear the six guys from Michigan playing their hearts out, with a sincerity that is endearing even when the music sometimes isn't.
The massive hooks on songs like "Everything As Planned" and "Cast The First Stone" are sure to appeal to fans of bands like A Day To Remember or Four Year Strong, but when these guys get heavy, they actually bear more resemblance to HORSE The Band, though nowhere near as hyperactive. The uplifting, atmospheric soundscapes call to mind Hopesfall, while the vocal interplay bears more than a little resemblance to Michigan-based labelmates Chiodos. Kyle Pavone has an uncommon voice, a crystal-clear tenor that seems otherworldly when placed in the middle of the maelstroms the band swirls around his melodies, while David Stephens' imposing roar provides contrast and offsets Pavone's natural pop sensibilities. Neither vocalist would serve a band particularly well on his own, but they play off each other seamlessly in a way that elevates both singers' performances to a surprising degree.
Unfortunately, WCAR does fall victim to the too-common metalcore foibles--without enough structural instrumental variation, the loud-soft-loud dynamic shifts all start to sound alike. Most if not all songs on the album sound great upon listening, but only a few stand out after the disc is back in its case on the shelf. They do their best, but they are still working within the confines of the genre they've chosen.
Ultimately, they aren't pioneers or geniuses or anything of the sort, but despite their shortcomings, they have indeed grown to be a force to be reckoned with, and have firmly secured their niche in the modern melodic hardcore scene.
I'm a big fan of WCAR, loved "To Plant a Seed" but I found this new album to be painfully average... Half of the songs were pretty good, a couple were really good, a few were alright, and there are a couple that I just can't listen to, hate to say... I skip them every time.
I agree with you on a lot of the criticism you gave this band and their unoriginality, but I'd say you gave them a bit much leeway. They sound like every other band this this god forsaken genre. The crappy autotuned vocals are the worst part. Please don't say the singer has an original voice in any way - he doesn't. This band blends in perfectly with the slew of other bands that sound EXACTLY the same...