Metalcore can be split in to so many different varieties of bands it's sometimes hard to tell where Metalcore ends and Post Hardcore (or even straight up Metal) begins. There are some decent hints and decent bands to point you on your way though. Does a band have chuggy breakdowns? Does a band have a screamer and a singer (sometimes they can be the same person)? Does the band sometimes display tasteful electronics in their music? We Came as Romans certainly fall in to the "All of the above" category in this instance.
Hailing from Troy, Michigan, the sextet have forged a fine career in Metalcore in their 12 year history. They're now on to their fifth album and the current line up (consisting of vocalists Dave Stephens (mostly screams, sometimes sings), Kyle Pavone (Only sings), guitarists Joshua Moore and Lou Cotton, bassist Andy Glass and drummer David Puckett) have produced, in my humble opinion, their best record to date.
The formula for a WCAR record hasn't changed that much over 12 years. They have big riffs. Inventive drum parts. Hench screams from Stephens and a stand out singer in Pavone. They weave some lovely keys and Synths in to their music as well.
But what HAS changed, is the quality of their song writing, particularly in their last two records. "Cold Like War" is another step up the quality ladder.
Opener "Vultures With Clipped Wings" takes 1:24 to get started, but when it does, you know about it. "I never found peace but now I'm fading away" comes from the guttural throat of Stephens as the song launches in to a head-bang inducing breakdown. WCAR will open with this track at gigs. Carnage will ensue when they do.
The title track then works its way in with a circle pit friendly, punk inspired riff with some of those tasteful synths I mentioned earlier on. We also get our first listen to Pavone's trademark voice. Pavone has had his critics in the past, but on "Cold Like War" he has honed his craft and now has his range. His performance on this record is stellar and impressive to say the least.
"Two Hands" blurs the lines of the genres from metalcore to post-hardcore. Predominantly a sung song, it has a huge chorus, really testing Pavones range to its maximum.
Lead single "Lost In The Moment" begins with solid chords and a keys part that sounds like Linkin Park and Pvris had a love child. Again, predominantly sung, this track screams "music video", with its hook laden and memorable chorus. It immediately became my favourite songs on the record.
"Foreign Fire" and "Wasted Age" contain big riffs and big breakdowns, the latter with a very listener friendly chorus. We're 6 songs in now and still solid song writing and textbook formula.
That changes a bit with "Encoder", which for the most part is a Dance/EDM song with some metal thrown in. Personally, I am not a fan of this mash up but I can also see where people would enjoy it. It's also the heaviest song on offer, with what sounds like lower tuned guitars than the rest of the record.
We're back to metalcore for "If There's Nothing To See" with another nice and simple chorus hook to keep listeners involved "We were so young, we were so vivid" (you'll be singing along for days afterwards as well).
"Promise Me" could well win WCAR a new set of fans, because at its heart, it's a pop song. No screaming until 2:54 and even then it's in the background. This song wouldn't be out of place on a "Now..." album. Somehow it still FITS though. Strange...
Album closer "Learning To Survive" is pretty much a ballad. Mid tempo, mid range chorus (again, catchier than your average STD) and heartfelt lyrics about giving up ("I can feel them watching me while I'm learning to survive/Staring at my broken will that I'm too tired to hide/So many demons I can't escape/Burning my bridges to light the way/I can feel them watching me while I make it out alive").
Overall, the words I would use to describe the 10 tracks on this album are "growth" and "maturity". We Came As Romans have flirted with the upper echelons of Metalcore for a few years now. They still don't fit with the battle hardened artists of the genre (such as Killswitch Engage), but that's predominantly to do with their style rather than their talent or song writing ability. It won't be long before their take on the genre propels them to brand new heights.
I love this record and I wanna be there when they make that jump.