We Came As Romans

support Blessthefall + Stick To Your Guns + For The Fallen Dreams + Obey The Brave + At The Skylines + The Browning + At Dawn We Rage
author BL date 18/10/12 venue Electric Ballroom, London, UK

It had been three long years since Rockfreaks.net had a presence at an Impericon Never Say Die! tour stop. Parts of that night still linger in my mind when I try to recall all that had happened when me and AP went in '09 - Architects headlined though I only marginally recall the other performances. Whilst stood outside London's Electric Ballroom venue waiting to attend my first show in quite a while, I was almost nervous with excitement at putting my review hat on again. One thing definitely on the cards was that it was going to be a long evening with the lineup consisting of no more than eight acts in total, all from overseas. Considering that the first name on the bill was the only one I had not heard of previously and I had seen four of the acts at least once before, I was cautiously relaxed in my expectations going in.

At Dawn We Rage

I did not unfortunately get a chance to scout out what kind of band or who At Dawn We Rage were before the show. If I had done so, I might not have been so confused when I saw that it was a dubstep act - or a single person on stage. I'm not going to pretend to know that much about dubstep and so it's difficult for me to judge and score this fairly in a sense as I can only go on what I saw. Their inclusion on the tour was by far the most unusual and awkward even, as when you look at the other names it doesn't make a lot of sense. The crowd at this stage was measily at best, only a few dozen had decided to come early for the 5pm start and most of them were not exactly livened up by what they could hear, nor me in that respect. Everything just blended so 'well' that it was hard to tell songs apart, nor was there much melody, atmosphere or any kind of hook to draw you in besides the usual affair of dense and bassy stuttering electronics. Had there been, I may have been tempted to go home and check out a few songs online to hear them in more detail. However all that this set succeeded in doing was reminding me that I need a drink to sooth my pounding head from the bass drops, of which I am sure there will be an onslaught to come.


The Browning

I mentioned earlier I was cautious in my expectations, though to be frank I wasn't sure what to expect live from these guys - if much at all. Their sound is best described as a melting pot of synth heavy techno/trance electronics and deathcore/metal. The electronics in particular is an integral part of their identity and their main selling point, as ultimately, the actual deathcore is borderline senseless and incredibly-one-dimensional. Banal arrangements of breakdowns and chugging pretty much make up the rest of their sound and I cannot get over how much more ridiculous it is to witness in a live setting (I can barely take more than a few songs at time just listening to their latest album "Burn This World" at home). The rather sludgy mixing meant that the electronics, which were admittedly pretty decent on the album, were almost inaudible compared to the brown noise of everything else. I had to retreat all the way to the balcony just to hear things clearly but by then I was just losing interest and patience. At the very least they operated as a tight unit and their songs were performed well, not that there was much to actually perform. And I'm unable to explain why they even need a second guitarist at all when they both play the same notes (mostly breakdowns). Overall, not a fan (as you can probably tell).


At The Skylines

Unlike the last band, I had desperately hoped At The Skylines to be good tonight (in a completely non biased professional sense). Their new album "The Secrets To Life", whilst not the stellar debut I thought it might have been this year, was in my eyes still a pretty solid first effort. Sadly, they have had to recently deal with the departure of their screaming vocalist Mark Barela so the singer Chris Shelley had to cover all the vocal duties which was, interesting to say the least. The mixing was still less than desirable and the crowd not too familiar with them, but with some relief At The Skylines gave me and a few others some reasons to be optimistic for the rest of the night. Their music may not be overly innovative, but it's catchy to sing to and got the crowd moving. In the end, Chris wasn't really able to pull off the screamed parts consistently, but he's still a step above many other singers in this genre I've seen live - his singing parts in "It's Cherried", "Turbulence", and "The Amazing Atom" sounded great which were the songs I wanted to hear the most. The rest of the band were no slouches either, the lead guitar parts especially sounded pretty faultless and I enjoyed how confidently and positively they performed on the stage despite being on so early. The only real shame was their set came and went so quickly.


Obey The Brave

Former Despised Icon vocalist Alex Erian's new band Obey The Brave do a pretty convincing job on stage, that is, convincing me that they sound an awful lot like The Ghost Inside anyway. To their credit, even if their brand of metallic hardcore was not entirely unheard of, because it wasn't, it didn't sound half bad and for a while was fairly entertaining. Instrumentally fast, aggressive and pretty unrelenting, very occasionally stringing in some cool lead melodies here and there - it was a potent mix. Yet a lack of familiarity with the songs though meant that it was hard to separate them from their competition in my head and I kept struggling to keep my attention focused when any hint of a memorable passage was always interrupted up by a heavy breakdown. This constant swing eventually started getting really repetitive and as time passed, I found myself more and more tired and wanting for the next band to start so the night can keep going. I could barely remember the end of the set when it finally came about.

For The Fallen Dreams

After seeing these guys twice before I am still yet undecided what I really make of For The Fallen Dreams as a live spectacle. It might be because I am so utterly devoid of interest when it comes to songs off their newer albums (The most recent one being the worst case) - they've turned what was once a slightly poor-man's Misery Signals sound into simple breakdown heavy hardcore with no bells and whistles. Now there's also occasionally some sung choruses which still make me cringe at how monotone the melodies are (the end result being somewhat like a really poor amalgamation of The Ghost Inside and A Day To Remember). In any case because of my affinity for their first album "Changes", I'm always little glad they still play "Brothers In Arms" live which still sounds great. Sadly it was the only highlight as there was nothing spectacular to write about elsewhere. Mostly a standard affair at best despite their best efforts. The crowd similarly was simmering but never really reaching boil as the numbers had barely increased and we have three more bands to go (it didn't feel anywhere near like the night would sell out or even close). A top up at the bar was in order by this point.


Stick To Your Guns

Now this was more like what I had wanted from the last two sets as Stick To Your Guns unleashed genuine energy and raw conviction that was enthralling. Jesse Barnett's vocals in particular stood out as being commanding just as I remembered it (paramount given the band's focus on their lyrics and delivery) and the crowd rallied in response and myself even came close to reinvigorating. Their latest album "Diamond" may not have been as impressive as "The Hope Division" but there were still a few cool songs to see like "Against Them All", "We Still Believe" and I love the actual introductory piece "Diamonds" itself though none still came close to being as good as "Amber" - one of their main crowdpleasers these days as evident from the hands in the air during the chorus. It was difficult not to like Stick To Your Gun's set because it was at least consistently better in almost every area compared to the two previous bands, however I feel like the wait to get here perhaps watered down what could have been a far more impactful set.


Seemed like the turnout got infinitely larger when these boys finally took to the stage. In fact I could have sworn an entire mob came specifically for Blessthefall and no one else and soon it became clear as to why. "2.0" got us off to a pretty good start perhaps, but I must admit I was blown away how improved they were compared to the last time I saw them as they blazed through their contemporary classic "What's Left Of Me". Say what you will about their beginnings, but the current band we have is shaping up to be a true force in the whole metalcore/post-hardcore scene. There was no gimmicks about their performance or their sound for that matter, everything was about playing at their best and just having a good time on the stage. It was a treat to witness some of the awesome guitar riffs and drumwork in the flesh that made "Awakening" as solid as it was.- the live musicianmanship was pretty much spot on and lead singer Beau Bokan's vocals sounded great (my last encounter was hampered by my dreaded nemesis - terrible mixing) as did the thundering screams of bassist Jared Warth. "Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad" was still thrown in for nostalgia's sake though amongst newer songs like "The Reign" and the excellent "Promised Ones", really shows off how far the band have progressed since the days of Craig Mabbit. The best of the night so far without a doubt.

  • Setlist
  • 1. 2.0
  • 2. What's Left of Me
  • 3. Guys Like You Make Us Look Bad
  • 4. I'm Bad News, In the Best Way
  • 5. The Reign
  • 6. Bottomfeeder
  • 7. Promised Ones
  • 8. To Hell and Back

We Came As Romans

There's a lot of ambivalence when it comes to We Came As Romans and myself. On one hand their music has a great positive message, there's some ambition in their song compositions of mixing post-hardcore/metalcore with theatrics and electronics and ear catching melodies - all good things. But I still can't get over after all these years how singer Kyle Pavone is still nowhere near able to reproduce those ethereal cleans live (somewhat less surprising given it sounded like a keyboard recorded all the cleans on their albums), and that their stage presence seems comparatively bland and a bit contrived after seeing Blessthefall successfully tearing the place a new one. There was definitely more of a pre-planned, pull off some carefully laid routine sort of feel to it all which soured my renewed experience somewhat.

Nonetheless the majority were content to sing and jump along to their newer numbers "What I Wish I Never Had" and "Mis//Understanding" off their latest album "Understanding What We've Grown To Be" as well as a slew of older tracks like "Broken Statues", "Roads That Don't End and Views That Never Cease" and "Intentions" from their previous album "To Plant A Seed". Though personally I was a bit disappointed at the omission of their other oldie and one of the best songs "Beliefs", and I would have been curious to hear new song "I Can't Make Your Decisions For You" as it was both catchy and had a bit of flash in the guitar department.

Overall while We Came As Romans did not necessarily do themselves such a great disservice by being so ordinary and by the book, when I think back to Architects all those years ago on this very tour - they were a band who really wanted the chance to be the headliner and grabbed at the opportunity and truly made it theirs. By contrast We Came As Romans seemed mostly just pleased to be taking part but not really pushing any harder than they really had to which meant there was definite a lack of embrace from parts of the audience. In the end justifiablhy Blessthefall ended up having a better reception (people chanting their name for example). A borderline forgettable end when it did finally come became especially more disappointing when I think how many lacklustre sets I have had to wade through for it.

  • Setlist
  • 1. What I Wished I Never Had
  • 2. To Move On Is To Grow
  • 3. Mis//Understanding
  • 4. Just Keep Breathing
  • 5. Broken Statues
  • 6. Roads That Don't End and Views That Never Cease
  • 7. A War Inside
  • 8. Intentions
  • 9. Cast The First Stone
  • 10. Understanding What We've Grown To Be
  • 11. To Plant A Seed

Photos courtesy of Lauren Harris.

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