For Fans Of
Before reading on, lets get something straight. If you are already a fan of We Came As Romans then it is (almost) certain that you will love their new offering, Understanding What We Have Grown To Be. If you are on the fence, somewhere in between liking them and hating them, then this album may just bring you to the positive side. However, if you are already certain that We Came As Romans are a band you don’t enjoy, then there is no point reading any further, because this album will do nothing to persuade you otherwise.
Understanding What We Have Grown To Be can very easily be passed of as an almost To Plant A Seed volume 2. The overall elements of the album are quite similar, albeit more matured. The band have released a catchy album featuring all your favourite parts of the We Came As Romans unit- Dave Stephens deep growls, Kyle Pavone’s effect covered clean vocals, energetic chugging guitar and bass lines split up by powerful breakdowns at the hands of guitarists Joshua Moore and Lou Cotton and bassist Andy Glass, all held together by the drum beats of Eric Choi.
The second time around We Came As Romans have played around with their lyrical content. Instead of purely focusing on love, brotherhood and all things hopeful, lyricist Joshua Moore has delved into the darker side of the human condition with part of the album.
The album opens with “Mis/Understanding”, this song marks the beginning of the darker tracks (“The world I’ve held so close to my heart is all against me now”), as the album continues We Came As Romans take you on an emotional journey not seen in their previous releases. The second half of the album is, lyrically, a lot like their previous material. By the twelfth track the journey has come full circle and as “Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be” ends with Pavone singing “I’m Alive” the band that was seen at the albums beginning is no more.
Track by track the album doesn’t bring anything new to the table. This isn’t always a bad thing, as it is evident that We Came As Romans have found a formula that works for them and keeps their fans happy. Opener “Mis/Understanding” opens with chuggy guitars and angry, deep screams. Breakdowns help keep the energy high, while synth sections provided by Pavone seem to clash with the tempo. Stephens’ vocals have improved and the darker tone they now possess works perfectly. Pavone’s vocals sound different as well, this time around they have less auto-tune and fancy layering effects over them, making them sound less robotic than before. It is already obvious that musically there hasn’t been much shift from anything We Came As Romans have previously released. “Everything As Planned” opens with melodic instrument lines and clean vocals, creating a stark contrast between sounds. The instruments get heavier as Stephens takes over the vocals. This track highlights the strengths in both the vocalists’ voices, and demonstrates why they work so well together. The rest of the tracks follow a similar structure. Closing track “Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be” is a great way to end the album. Here Pavone’s clean vocals are dominant, and Stephens’ growls are used to back him up. The song ends with a singalong section that will translate perfectly live.
The main downfall of this album is the way We Came As Romans finish their songs. Almost every track ends the same way- by fading out slowly. This shows that while they know how to start a song well and can play with melodies and tempos throughout the track they haven’t quite figured out how to end a song strongly, and using the whole band. But this is something that can be learnt in time.
With their second full length, We Came As Romans have delivered on the promise made by their previous release. They have again released a solid record full of catchy hooks, high energy instrumentation, perfect vocals (both screams and cleans) as well as some synth and string sections, group sing-alongs and quotable lyrics for good measure- all made in perfect We Came As Romans fashion. There is no denying that this is a We Came As Romans record, they have created their own distinct sound out of the metalcore mold, while still fitting so tightly in it. Not much has changed since the last record, the band have matured out of their teenage years, but all-in-all they aren’t doing anything too different.
2. Everything As Planned
3. What I Wished I Never Had
4. Cast The First Stone
5. The Way That We Have Been
6. A War Inside
7. Stay Inspired
8. Just Keep Breathing
9. Views That Never Cease, To Keep Me From Myself
10. What My Heart Heald
11. I Can’t Make Your Decisions For You
12. Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be