Michigan’s We Came As Romans have so far enjoyed what would surely be considered a successful career by anyone’s standards. Having been a band in one way, shape or form since 2005, the band have released five full-length albums to date, as well as touring with some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Parkway Drive, A Day To Remember, and Of Mice & Men, to name but a few.
Things haven’t always been smooth sailing. They’ve undergone a number of line-up and record label changes, but having recently found a new home at SharpTone Records, they’re back with their fifth record, ‘Cold Like War’.
After having experimented on their last two efforts with a lighter, poppier sound, ‘Cold Like War’ sees We Came As Romans returning to their heavier roots, but it’s a decision that could be to their detriment. There’s certainly a veritable shedload of driving riffs and caustic screams here, but without the elements that sent their hype machine into overdrive a couple years ago, there’s nothing to stop it feeling formulaic and tired.
“I’ve never known peace / But now I’m fighting a war,” bellows vocalist Dave Stephens on opening track ‘Vultures With Clipped Wings’ amidst familiar chugging guitars and pounding drums. It’s metalcore-by-numbers, and feels more than a little clinical, as does the following track and eponymous lead single, ‘Cold Like War’. The vocals are a standout – the tried and true formula of guttural screams mixed with sweeping cleans from Kyle Pavone/b> being showcased to perfection here – but, as a whole, it’s a mediocre start.
Things do get better as the album progresses, and We Came As Romans certainly know their way around a strong melody, as highlighted on some of the album’s stronger offerings. ‘Two Hands’ is undeniably catchy, and provides the record’s first explosive chorus. The synths are a worthy addition to the instrumentation that add interest to tracks like ‘Foreign Fire’, and the anthemic ‘Wasted Age’ provides one of the album’s more auspicious moments, which is more than can be said for the over-produced ‘Encoder’ and cringeworthy ballad, ‘Promise Me’.
On the whole, ‘Cold Like War’ isn’t a terrible album, and there’s some momentary flashes of genius here, but they’re all too infrequent; strong choruses and soaring vocals are often lost in recycled riffs and uninspired production. Dangerously close to being generic this time around, We Came As Romans will need to up their game if they want to be a supernova in an already very starry sky.
Written by Lottie Cook (@pixelottie)