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We Came As Romans - Tracing Back Roots Album Cover

We Came As Romans - Tracing Back Roots

Reviewed by
6.0
We Came As RomansTracing Back Roots
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Record Label: Equal Vision
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
In the fall of 2009, I received a small envelope from Equal Vision Records containing an advance of To Plant A Seed, the debut album from a band they recently signed named We Came As Romans. I gave it a few listens and eventually tossed it aside, concluding that this was just more of the same tired metalcore we’d been getting lately and they’d fade away sooner rather than later. Four years later now and how wrong was I, as the Troy, Michigan, sextet currently rule as the kings of Warped Tour 2013, promoting its third full-length Tracing Back Roots. So while I clearly whiffed on We Came As Romans’ relevancy within the scene, my concerns about the music the band was putting out were still legitimate. WCAR has seen a steady incline in popularity over the course of the last few years, but has the musicianship and songwriting followed that same uptick?

A partial answer is given almost immediately with the title track – a ferocious opener that showcases an aggressiveness unheard of in previous releases. David Stephens screams are on point as the triple guitar attack of him, Joshua Moore, and Lou Cotton unleash riffs that’ll undoubtedly worm its way into your membrane. Stephens also contributes clean vocals for the first time on this record, thus giving listeners another contrast from the squeaky high vocals of Kyle Pavone. He shines on the melodically poppy “Fade Away,” a song that sets the tone for the rest of the album, as Tracing Back Roots is fairly driven by melody and hooks. Songs like “Tell Me Now,” “I Am Free,” and “Never Let Me Go” are totally built to be played on SiriusXM’s AltNation in the future. There isn’t anything memorable musically here, as each song seems built to showcase the powerful vocals of Pavone and Stephens, giving the instrumentation a back seat.

That’s not to say the band hasn’t improved in that area, with tracks like “A Moment” and the Aaron Gillespie-aided “I Survive.” The former follows in the footsteps in the aforementioned tracks in that the vocals are the main selling point but differentiates with some improved guitar work and well-placed electronic moments throughout. It has the most potential on Tracing Back Roots to be a crossover smash. The latter is one of the my favorite tracks on the album, as it drops a lot of metalcore tendencies yet retrains a lot of aggression over the mainly electronic-pop track (plus hearing Gillespie sing underneath Stephens’ growl gives me minor Underoath flashbacks).

And even though there is more attention on pop and melody, the band can still turn up the heaviness when needed. “Ghosts” is in a vice grip courtesy of Stephens’ ferociousness before slowing down over the bridge to create one final ambush, while “Present, Future, and Past” is unabashed in its heaviness and breakdown usage. Pavone has lowered his range a bit on this release, making his signing over the bridges and breakdowns a little more bearable.

Tracing Back Roots doesn’t rehash previous ideas as much throughout (this is something that plagued the band’s second album, Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be). Still, you know what you’re getting with We Came As Romans by now – positive, uplifting lyrics buoyed by clean, passionate vocals and screams, but at least this time there are enough interesting moments behind these elements to hold attention spans longer. It’s usually around album three or four when a band in this genre either makes a leap or stays stagnant in its musicianship and writing, and this point in WCAR’s career reminds me of The Devil Wears Prada’s trajectory before they turned heads with the Zombie EP and Dead Throne. I still believe this band has a lot of potential in this genre, and with Tracing Back Roots, We Came As Romans have shown just enough progress to make me believe that LP4 could be the game changer they’re looking for.

6/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 25
12:16 PM on 08/02/13
#2
Quijiba
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I really like that last paragraph and I agree completely. There has always been something about this band that makes me believe they can be better, heres to hoping the can make the leap next time around.
Great review
06:14 PM on 08/02/13
#3
theintention
It's like Meow-Schwitz in here.
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This band would be so much better angrier. Less clean vocals, more aggression in the instrumentation, similar to the TDWP comparison. Unfortunately, they seem to be taking a different route.
11:36 PM on 08/03/13
#4
PaperLantern
New Valencia in 2010!
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I wasn't a fan of this album at all after the first few listens, but now I'm loving it. It's definitely better than their last album which had a lot of filler in my opinion, but I don't think it tops To Plant a Seed. The vocal melodies are exactly what I'd expect from WCAR, but a little bit catchier.

My only complaint is with the guitar tones; they sound much better with Sturgis-powered guitars, this new tone feels week, and a lot of the really solid moments on the album could have been much more powerful with stronger guitar tones.
04:25 PM on 08/04/13
#5
PureBlueSF
ur not even pop punk
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They should kick out Kyle Pavone (who cannot sing live worth a shit) and just have Dave do the singing, because based on what I hear on this album, he's actually really fucking good at it.

This album was actually a lot better than I was expecting. It doesn't really make up for the 3 times I saw them (they sounded horrible every time, only because of Kyle), but there's some solid songs on it. I really like Never Let Me Go.
08:38 AM on 08/05/13
#6
Lightsout911X
Expect me standing tall
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They should kick out Kyle Pavone (who cannot sing live worth a shit) and just have Dave do the singing, because based on what I hear on this album, he's actually really fucking good at it.

This album was actually a lot better than I was expecting. It doesn't really make up for the 3 times I saw them (they sounded horrible every time, only because of Kyle), but there's some solid songs on it. I really like Never Let Me Go.

He really cannot. It's almost painful to see them live because of his pitchiness.
08:46 AM on 08/05/13
#7
Supernovacaine
givin'er
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wasn't too impressed with this release.. but its pretty awesome they had such a great debut on the billboard charts, they really seem to have amassed a loyal fanbase
09:32 AM on 08/05/13
#8
theherox
As of 10/3, pronounced "Thoreau"
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I'm with you, I'm still far from being really impressed by this band
10:36 AM on 08/05/13
#9
Peerless
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I enjoyed this album quite a bit.
10:42 AM on 08/05/13
WasteSomeTime
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Liked the review but I feel like the score should have been higher
10:51 AM on 08/05/13
WhatJulianSaid
News on Once the Clouds are Gone
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Lyrics are bad, clean vocals never get better and neither does their musical skill. People just eat this stuff up so easily. I thought the last album had some really good moments but never had much of a lasting value and the same thing can kind of be sad about this one.
11:12 AM on 08/05/13
skoopy48
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Definitely prefer the first two albums, especially on the instrumental side of things, but I like the first song and I'm glad that they're having success with this.
02:38 PM on 08/05/13
UphillBothWays
Go Ahead and Pass Me by, Parade
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Though I've utterly dismissed this band as a group with stagnant progression, I agree with the last paragraph. If they can focus their energy into something more unique within the genre, then they can become the new TDWP and have their own Zombie EP and Dead Throne. Only time will tell.
05:21 PM on 08/05/13
Lacedwithshame
Fuck your learners permit!!!!!
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They should kick out Kyle Pavone (who cannot sing live worth a shit) and just have Dave do the singing, because based on what I hear on this album, he's actually really fucking good at it.

This album was actually a lot better than I was expecting. It doesn't really make up for the 3 times I saw them (they sounded horrible every time, only because of Kyle), but there's some solid songs on it. I really like Never Let Me Go.
For me, it kinda feels like Kyle plays a role and without him, the band wouldn't feel the same.
Overall, I loved Understanding and probably would've enjoyed this much more if there were more screams. I also believe that adding in Hope was bad decision.
05:25 PM on 08/05/13
The Meech
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agree with last paragraph. these guys are much better than most scene chugcore. I feel like these guys actually have talent and potential

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