We Came As Romans

Tracing Back Roots

Written by: JWM on 02/09/2013 20:12:52

There is one little thing that separates 'American metalcore' stylistically from its parent sub-genre and that’s the influence of pioneering bands The Devil Wears Prada and Attack Attack! Since their these two bands have made waves across their homeland and influenced countless others before the mainstream audience was even aware of them. Suddenly for American bands out there it was all about synthesisers, auto-tuned high pitched male vocals contrasting hardcore shouts and guttural vocals, while excessive use of breakdowns and the Joey Sturgis idea of "wall of sound" style production became streamlined features. We Came As Romans walk along the path these bands paved, among dozens of others. "Tracing Back Roots" is their third album and with it they continue with the style they consistently have followed through with.

Starting with the album's title track "Tracing Back Roots"; the build up is created by violence-inciting guitar pinch harmonies and haunting synthesisers which sluggishly transition into a section predictably crafted for live performances; it's conductive to moshing with its thundering instruments and intense hardcore energy. Sadly, the song concludes with a generic component of American metalcore as gang vocals and a poppy atmosphere support surprisingly high male r'n'b falsetto singing. This kind of formula of a lurching introduction, a breakdown-centric middle with a very catchy end is consistent for half of the tracks on the album, allowing very little deviation.

However not every song follows this structure to the letter. "Fade Away" and "Never Let Me Go" offer a very radio friendly new-school hardcore approach, akin to A Day To Remember's "Have Faith in Me", while "I Survive" is an electro-ballad which takes the band's style in it's most delicate direction. But in this case 'delicate' can be synonymous with 'boring' as the song goes absolutely nowhere and the repetition of the song title starts to grind on your ears. The memorable post-hardcore guitar riff of "Ghosts" sets the scene of a potentially great song before it gets bogged down in the same metalcore-breakdown and synthesised chimes that plague the album. Meanwhile, the live stage is destined for tracks "Present, Future, And Past" and the electronicore-focused album closer "Through The Darkest Dark And Brightest Bright".

Lyrically "Tracing Back Roots" self-indulges on the great amount of regret the lyricist feels for past choices in life, unfortunately with rather uninspiring consequences. The lyrics talk about accepting that your sins are what have defined and sculpted you, ("Tracing Back Roots") recognising that time is running out and you have to act fast to correct your mistakes ("Present, Future, And Past") and reflecting on whether you have lost you way in life ("A Moment"). However, the lyrics of flagship single "Hope" are incomprehensible.

However this album isn't without its small positives as the vocal range of singer David Stephens is one to be admired, though I felt that he hasn't found ways to present and explore it. The use of pop and ambiance have their moments of serenity and polarise the aggression of the record but at the same time are used in a very generic and tragically repetitive way. The production is crisp and no instrument is drowned out in the mix. However sonically - at times - the instruments can sound a little too fake and the vocals too auto-tuned.

Ultimately if you wish to hear a defining, fantastic or even a stand out album, don't listen to "Tracing Back Roots". It's a middle of the fence, uninspired and boring piece of work from a band who are only staying afloat rather than making waves. Its attempted dynamic approach to the r'n'b influenced melodic metalcore (although definitely lacking in both the r'n'b and metal aesthetics) is formulaic. Its already conservative use of symphony and glitch electronics are uninspired and forced and the song writing is disjointed as the sections don't connect together well, while its “poppyer than pop” but “harder than hardcore” approach feels derivative and achieves much less than some of their contemporaries.

Download: Ghosts, Tell Me Now, A Moment
For The Fans Of: The Devil Wears Prada, Woe, Is Me, Memphis May Fire
Listen: We Came As Romans on facebook

Release Date 23.06.2013
Nuclear Blast Records

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