We Came As Romans – Tracing Back Roots
Record Label: Equal Vision
Release Date: July 23 2013
Within the last six or seven years I’ve been heavily into music, I’ve lost touch with a lot of bands. It’s like these bands are old friends that I’ve lost touch with. I used to hang out with them for a long time, then I met new friends (or bands) and listened to them a lot. The cycle has continued for a long time, but every so often, I’ll run into these old bands again and “catch up” with them. Michigan post-hardcore outfit We Came As Romans is definitely one of these bands. I remember listening to this band when they were an unsigned band in 2008, so it’s cool to see them signed and doing their own thing five years later. After a while, though, I kind of got bored of them, and post-hardcore in general. It’s not that I hated it, but the genre was getting stale, so I decided to look for some new “friends” elsewhere. But now I’m going back to a lot of these bands that I used to be heavily into, WCAR being one of them. I was curious about third record Tracking Back Roots for a couple of reasons, those being that former Underoath and current Almost frontman Aaron Gillespie was on a track, and the record took a much more melodic turn. I also managed to find a copy of the record a few days early at my local Hot Topic, so I was even more excited to check it out. What I read about the record being much more melodic wasn’t wrong, either – it’s less breakdown-oriented, and more focused on the huge choruses and clean vocals from both clean vocalist Kyle Pavone and screamer Dave Stephens. This is also an interesting record, because Stephens actually does sing a bit on the record. He’s nothing extraordinary, just like Pavone, but together, they make a nice pair of vocalists. The title track starts off the record, along with Stephens’ screaming (along with a tasteful breakdown) but his first clean vocals appear on second track “Fade Away,” which is a fairly solid track. It’s your average We Came As Romans track, which is basically a post-hardcore or metalcore track filled with inspiring lyrics about various things along with a few breakdowns or gang vocal chants. It’s one of the better songs on the record, even though most of the songs aren’t so bad.
The record may be vocal-centric, but the backing instrumentation does play a role, too; guitarists Joshua Moore and Lou Cotton do provide some nice guitarwork throughout the record, even though it’s nothing extraordinary. As I mentioned, the band’s sound has shifted slightly to less about breakdowns and more about actual melody. No, they haven’t gone into a poppier sound, but a more straightforward hard-rock/alternative sound. They essentially followed in Escape the Fate’s footsteps for their newest record Ungrateful, which is much more hard-rock/radio metal than post-hardcore/metalcore. Granted, We Came As Romans doesn’t utilize guitar solos or anything like that, and they still do have a few breakdowns here and there. Those breakdowns add some darker moods to the record, along with just switching things up every so often. They’ve certainly traced back their own roots (pun intended), and they haven’t forgotten their older material. As bands do, they’re progressing and maturing. Granted, they haven’t “matured” fully, but they’re getting there. It’s rather evident on third track “I Survive,” which I mentioned earlier about featuring Aaron Gillespie. I say the maturation is evident in the track mainly because of Gillespie himself. They could’ve gotten any post-hardcore or metalcore vocalist, such as Kellin Quinn, Vic Fuentes, Austin Carlile, or any of the “popular” vocalists in the scene, but they chose Gillespie, a post-hardcore veteran. Bands always have the more popular vocalists on their records to stay relevant, but I admire We Came As Romans for choosing Gillespie, and while he may not be as popular anymore (especially after leaving Underoath to pursue the Almost much more), he’s still remembered and he’s still relevant. Gillespie also does a great job on the record, too; he takes up a small chunk of the track and does his thing nicely. “I Survive” is definitely one of the highlights of the record.
The biggest thing that bothers me about this album aren’t the breakdowns that show up here and there, but it’s the fact that the record does have the same problem that their others have – it all runs together. That’s the problem with most post-hardcore albums in general, though; the record can run together if not enough variety is there, and that’s what this record suffers from. The fact that they’ve shied away on the breakdowns is nice, but even then, the songs do tend to run together, aside from a few tracks, like “Fade Away,” “Ghosts,” “I Survive,” “Never Let Me Go,” and “I Am Free.” I like the more alternative part of their sound, but even then, it can still run together. They’re not as heavy this time around, but if anything, that makes them even better. Aside from the fact the record can get run together, and the pointless breakdowns, the one other thing that bugs me are vocalists Pavone and Stephens. Stephens’ harsh vocals are awesome, and I do appreciate the fact that Pavone doesn’t autotune his vocals anymore. They’re a bit better on this album, even if they still fall flat in many places. Either way, though, this is still a very solid album, even with the few things that bug me about it. If you’re a metalcore/post-hardcore fan, this should be right up your alley.