Posted by Johnny Chadwick on 10/14 at 05:55 PM
Out of Troy, Michigan, the six piece We Came As Romans has already proven their musical talents with their first release. They have always been known for their technical writing ability, but it can be difficult to bring together six different musicians and organize their styles to fit together. Despite the difficulty, they pull it off with Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be as Joshua Moore (writer and guitarist for We Came As Romans) holds it together. He has the perfect assembly of musicians to fulfill his needs and has made their second album a staple in their early careers along the way to becoming long time legends of this post-hardcore, symphonic rock genre.
Moore was recently interviewed by PSU’s The LION 90.7 FM and explained the meaning behind the album as being about figuring out life and it’s obstacles. You can definitely feel the sense of the album’s title which goes hand in hand with the name of their current headlining tour: I Am Alive.
We can see some differences from their past release when We Came As Romans had more of a raw feel, while still transitioning in and out of up beat melodies. The production is better in this album but it cuts away from the bands break downs at times. Nevertheless, it starts well. The album begins with the song ‘Mis//Understanding.’ The first lines wailed by David Stephens gives you a good summary of the first half of the album: “Am I not understanding this now? This world I’ve held so close to my heart is all against me now.” The world has it’s pressures and you will feel it’s weight quite often as you grow. The guitars give this song a good rhythm to set up for the rest of the album as it becomes more melodic from here on out. Following ‘Mis//Understanding,’ ‘Everything As Planned’ shows off Kyle Pavone’s voice as he brings in a smooth intro proclaiming, “I don’t sleep at night.” This brings in a great mix that not many bands can pull off. We Came As Romans puts their melodies right on their breakdowns so as to keep an upbeat feel while still feeling the drops of the lower guitar riffs.
Then there are tracks like ‘What I Wish I Never Had,’ where you feel the epic-ness these guys can bring to the table while showing off all of their talents. They prove their ability to create amazing dynamics with tracks like this and ‘A War Inside.’ Keys and piano are found much more often in this album than their last and it allows them to give more build ups and even slow it down at times. It gives you the feeling that you’re watching a movie that has you on the edge of your seat. One minute you’re all caught up in the action and the next you’re concerned with the emotions of the main character.
It doesn’t stop there either. After ‘A War Inside’ (the longest track We Came As Romans has ever written), you feel a turning point as the album starts to address these struggles as a part of life. The feeling of overcoming your obstacles is apparent especially in ‘Just Keep Breathing.’ The great drum fills that open the song by Eric Choi prepare you for the powering double bass and ‘chugga-chugga’ guitar in this solid hardcore song. This song really inspires you to sing along as you relate to the theme in the lyrics towards the end: “Don’t let yourself think that you control anything besides the way you live your life. Everything is all right just keep calm, just keep calm.”
If that isn’t enough, immediately following Just Keep Breathing, you are given a gem like ‘Views That Never Cease, To Keep Me From Myself.’ It is similar to ‘Roads That Don’t End And Views That Never Cease’ from their last album, in that it is about being away from home and out on the road. In The LION 90.7FM’s interview with Joshua, he explains how he wrote the song while the band was on tour outside of the states. It really shows his guitar talents while giving the two vocalists a great mixture of screaming and singing as they go back and forth on the matter of being stuck in your own head and maybe over analyzing your own thoughts.
The final track (the title track) stands out as a true triumph. The opening guitar riff hooks you in immediately getting you ready to sing along with Kyle. Dynamics drive the song and We Came As Romans shows off what they’ve mastered since 2005: high paced guitar riffs to melodic vocals all while keeping their sense of epic-ness by pushing the envelope of changing dynamics. The final line “I’m alive” stays in your head as the album closes out and you know that you’ve been influenced by the album.
The amount of production in this album is quite different from most hardcore bands. This cuts into their breakdowns a little. Compared to their old material they have less drops, and the break downs seem shorter and less explosive. This album has a lot of transitions and orchestral parts that could be concerning in their live performances. However, I can say after this summer at Warped Tour that there is nothing to worry about. Joey Sturgis helped produce this album and knew how to keep the We Came As Romans sound and message clear. Regardless of the small cut on breakdowns, which I think is a minor issue, this album really hits home and sticks with you. If you haven’t already done so, get your hands on a copy ofUnderstanding What We’ve Grown To Be and be sure to check out the dates for their I’m Alive Tour with Of Mice & Men and Miss May I. It can only get better from here. You can buy Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be at Amazon.com:
Author: Johnny Chadwick
Bio: Johnny Chadwick is a DJ for The LION 90.7fm and Media Studies Undergrad that has a passion for genuine music. Skilled at percussion and guitar, he has always enjoyed writing originals and playing shows with his band. Outside of music he enjoys analyzing media and keeping up with modern technology. Skating and Snowboarding are just some of his hobbies. His favorite genres come from hardcore or alternative roots and range from indie to punk. Some of his favorites are Saosin, Brand New, From Autumn to Ashes, Lady Radiator, Koji, & Every Time I Die.
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