We Came As Romans

To Plant A Seed

Written by: BL on 04/02/2010 02:56:01

It is fair to say that if any scenester genre has seen a real explosion in numbers of bands popping up over the last 12 or so months, it would definitely be keyboard/electronic backed post-hardcore. I have literally come across so many identikit bands with swappable panic chords, breakdowns, electronic beats, deathgrowl come screechy screams and the odd Saosin-esque crooning that I feel like I'm sitting by a conveyor belt with a pen and clipboard ticking the same boxes over and over again. With that said you do sometimes get the odd pick out of the production line that just manage to do the business slightly better than the rest, or at least have the money to afford a decent production from Joey Sturgis (who was the mastermind producer behind albums from such all time classic acts like The Devil Wears Prada, Attack Attack!, Asking Alexandria, For The Fallen Dreams, Miss May I and many, many others)

To be fair to We Came As Romans though, they actually do manage to incorporate more ambitious instrumental and compositional ideas into their sound than most others around them, too many of which content with haphazardly dropping mediocre and uninspired parts into a machine that comes up with songs. The guitars generally incorporate a similar but not quite as standard The Devil Wears Prada approach of mixing the familar ringing ambient melodies over hard hitting metallic riffage. The breakdowns aren't overbearing nor are they that numerous, but still occasionally suffer from jolting a worked rhythm to a halt, disrupting the flow unnecessarily. Similarly you can tell the band is really trying hard to at least compete with the more technical tier of post-hardcore like The Word Alive, but taking a few too many steps and overthinking can make songs like "Broken Statues" (a fan favourite) seem a little directionless and ultimately frustrating because it bounces back and fourth between parts so frequently. It is an example of the band trying to incorporate as many point winners as possible, but actually end up almost choking your ears like rush hour in congestion mode - which is also disappointing since there are some very neat ideas strewn all over. In contrast, the simpler sounding songs from the "Dreams" EP that allowed the band to generate such a buzz in the scene at the time ("Intentions" and "Dreams") have been given glamourous makeovers and still sound great. As does the epic second half of "Beliefs" which arguably is one of the best moments on the whole album, a delicious crescendo breaking into a acoustic/piano driven outro.

Elsewhere it's the familar story of mechanical precision in the drums and a bass guitar that just plays the rhythm guitar's part - mostly heard it all. The keyboards utilise string and piano samples and some orchestral components (the best part of "Broken Statues" and "I Will Not Reap Destruction" - particularly at the start) which actually adds a slightly unique spin compared to the samey electro beat sample that gets used everywhere these days. Vocal duties are split between lead screamer Dave Stephens and the keyboardist Kyle Pavone who handles the cleans. Together, they sing lyrics that have the aim of delivering positive messages. But at times they seem to almost linger into Christian territory (the band maintain they are not a Christian band however): "This is how I show you my love. (My love, my love), This is him speaking to me". Soundwise, Dan's screamed vocals are gnarly and fairly typical compared to other vocalists who have slightly deeper voices, so don't expect any high screams. Kyle on the other hand, on record, has the most superhuman autotune I've ever heard. Not only does he sound note perfect, but the mechanically sharp pitch transitions and the smooth yet incredibly soaring boom makes him sound literally like a machine singing. This is considering that there is no robotic vocoder effect like Attack Attack!, but in a way it can become just as, if not, more grating to one's ears occasionally simply because of how unnatural and piercing it can sound.

If the electronic post-hardcore movement rocks your boat this album warrants a checking out. For the most part everything about "To Plant A Seed" is competent and there are some engaging and thick sounds attacking you from all directions fighting for you attention. I do wish they actually had a clean vocalist who could actually sing without the monstrous amount of autotune required to mask a lack of technical ability, and the end result doesn't even really sound like real singing. They could also do with more songs which actually rely more on building a solid progression instead of running around a maze with a paintball gun filled with breakdowns, samples and spastic riffs. And seeing as only some of the songs here, not all, have this quality and they have lost a fair amount of their somewhat unique sound to other competing bands since their last EP, I'd give this a

Download: To Plant A Seed, Intentions, Dreams, Beliefs
For the fans of: The Devil Wears Prada, Attack Attack!, The Color Morale, The Word Alive
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.11.2009
Equal Vision Records

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