Three years ago, the name We Came As Romans meant very little to very few people, however, upon releasing their second full-length, ‘Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be’, they’ve established themselves amongst metalcore’s top ranks in the US and have a very quickly rising fan base in the UK and across Europe. There’s no doubt that debut ‘To Plant A Seed’ definitely put them on the map, so it’s only natural that they want to emulate and move on from that success this time around.
However, I don’t think anyone has told the band that the way to do this is probably not to copy their first album riff for riff. Okay, so it’s not exactly the same, but ‘Understanding…’ provides next to none in terms of musical or lyrical progression, and that is a real disappointment. You would’ve thought that after three years they would have been bored of writing songs about brotherhood and life etc., which is fine, if we hadn’t already heard it once before. There are some good moments here; ‘Mis//Understanding’ and ‘Cast The First Stone’ are both powerful numbers that pack a hell of a punch, and the delicate intro to ‘Everything As Planned’ is only a prelude to the forthcoming destruction. In terms of heaviness, it probably does fill the slight void that there was on ‘To Plant A Seed’, but it still leaves a lot to the imagination.
Amongst some other irritating traits that the album posses, ‘Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be’ lacks a clear cut chorus, one that will really get stuck in your head, a huge hook. For this reason alone, it’s fairly easy to predict that this album will get lost in a sea of up-and-coming metalcore bands. Despite leaning towards more dual vocals when performing live, the band still don’t give equal weight to both the screamed and clean vocals of David Stephens and Kyle Pavone respectively. It’s not until the surprisingly good ‘Just Keep Breathing’ that balance appears to be somewhat restored.
This is not a terrible album, far from it, but it just shows a lack of ambition on the band’s part. It’s a testament to the band’s first album that they felt uncomfortable changing anything about, however it is frustrating to listen to. Fans of the band will absolutely love it, as I’m sure a lot of the scene will. Most likely it will go on and make them even bigger. It could backfire and mean they get lost in the crowd, although I highly doubt it. We Came As Romans have played it safe for now, and have done enough to keep their own heads above the water.
Written by Oliver Thompson