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Like most releases I was sent ‘Cold Like War’, the newest LP from We Came As Romans before it’s release on Friday, October 20th. However, I didn’t open up the email with said album stream/download link out of the sheer fact that it was a We Came As Romans album. Then, after spending some time with the record this past week, I stand corrected.
There are two gripes I have with bands such as We Came As Romans. The first is that why would I waste my time listening to these sorts of bands when other groups like August Burns Red, Misery Signals, Architects, and Silent Planet did and still do metalcore all to a far, far better degree? Exactly, I just won’t bother with such lesser bands like this unless it’s for a review here on KYS. The second reason is I always feel like these kinds of bands want to have their pop-metal cake and eat it too; meaning they want to be a heavy metalcore/post-hardcore/whatever band but still wish to ride the often vapid cock of electronic/pop-music like there is seemingly no tomorrow. In fact, this dichotomy of sounds between their poppy and heavy sides is the most apparent contention against We Came As Romans‘ ‘Cold Like War’.
Cuts like ‘Learning To Survive‘ and ‘Wasted Age‘ are merely the same old uplifting, but trite metalcore backwash that these guys have been peddling for years now since 2009’s ‘To Plant A Seed‘ came out, just with lesser amounts of autotune. Sure, these kinds songs here are never that bad, but they’re also never that great either. ‘Two Hands’, the title track, ‘If There’s Nothing To See’ (which features I Previal’s Eric Vanlerberghe), and ‘Lost In The Moment’ aim for a musical middle ground of sorts between the groups heavier and the lighter shades a la their peers in I Prevail and I See Stars. Yet with poppy chord progressions, hooky choruses and a couple of lukewarm breakdowns, it all hits with the impact of a dry sponge, all with no real rhyme or reason. I mean, good god, you can smell this kind of hollow filler from a fuckin’ mile away. And really, that’s exactly what ‘Cold Like War‘ is: hollow filler.
Elsewhere, a song like the sappy, uptempo electro-ballad ‘Promise Me‘ feels so out of place when compared with this record’s darker, heavier moments, such as ‘Encoder‘ or the surprisingly* decent and cinematic opener ‘Vultures With Clipped Wings‘. (*This is surprising because this is WCAR we’re talking about and their track record for writing good songs is pretty goddamn low).
Yet on the flipside from a song like ‘Promise Me‘, one of the most ear-catching moments is the aforementioned ‘Encoder‘; a track that combines WCAR’s electronic elements with their metal side, all with much better results. It’s a trippier, remix sort of tune and is one of the more interesting tracks of the entire record, with slick sampled parts and tight cut-up beats and vocal parts, before seeing screamer Dave Stephens take the reigns and lead the band into some massive, impactful breakdowns. In fact, when Stephens is leading the charge over clean singer Kyle Pavone, that’s where WCAR are at their very best. With a standout moment like ‘Encoder‘ – even if its core merit is that it isn’t as bland as its fellow siblings – I often found myself wishing that the band would just cut the shit and embrace one particular sound fully. However, that’s probably just wishful thinking on my part at this stage in their career and so, if you listen to just one song from this new album, please let it be ‘Encoder‘. Just forget the rest, yeah?
We Came As Romans’ music, ‘Cold Like War’ most certainly included, is like that try-hard kid you knew in high-school who always aimed to impress all the different clicks and groups of their schools social dynamic. Yet in their doing so, failed to make any real impact or connection with any one group and just looked like a mismatched mess. That’s this record in a nutshell, friends.
1. Vultures With Clipped Wings
2. Cold Like War
3. Two Hands
4. Lost In The Moment
5. Foreign Fire
6. Wasted Age
8. If There’s Nothing To See (feat. Eric Vanlerberghe)
9. Promise Me
10. Learning To Survive
‘Cold Like War’ is out now. Stream the one good song from the album below: