LP Review; We Came as Romans: “Cold Like War”

“Vultures with Clipped Wings” starts with a solemn sound: the music notation provides the illusion that one may be standing in or looking at a beautiful scene of nature. After this harmonic passage, the band provides a single line of sung lyrics that fades into a characteristic heavy sound that We Came as Romans is known for. With this, the band sets the standard for their sound bouncing between clean and screamed vocals with a progressive back-beat.

“Cold Like War” starts with a simple lyrical melody with faint screaming motives underneath it that leads to the main theme of the first verse. As the song progresses, the band utilizes a few ornate rhythms within their instrumental section to keep their sound fresh as they remain in the realm of their normal sound. The middle of the song provides the audience with a question answer section, which is affective musically, for they back up this method with screaming vocals, and the adding and subtracting of instrumental portions. This interlude eventually leads into a strong breakdown that keeps the single-word screaming motive throughout.

“Two Hands” starts with minimal background music, and its focus are the clean vocals. As this song progresses, it is heard that they keep the primary driver of melodic content in the clean vocals rather than more aggressive ones. This song differs from the first two selections, for this one gives the audience a selection where they can sing along easily, but still have that hardcore content beneath it. Eventually, the song leads into a more aggressive section. A song of this nature isn’t uncommon for We Came as Romans to include on their album, for it relates to songs such as “The World I Used to Know”.

“Lost in the Moment” starts with a musical motive that mixes their general hardcore sound with an electronic twist: this method is similar sounding to music of older Linkin Park. The vocals throughout the song remain clean with spurts of screamed vocals to enhance certain phrases. This technique is well received, for it helps to internalize the lyrics that the band is presenting, However, the band quickly transitions into a breakdown that is led by the phrase “I won’t be caught in the hands of time”, and this breakdown was unexpected for this selection, but when you look at how the band approached that section, one can see that it was a perfect match for this song.

“Foreign Fire” starts with a bunch of random noises that relate to technology like a telephone line, etc. These noises lead the audience into a normal screamed verse that goes into a clean, catchy verse. This back-and-forth is a strong characteristic of We Came as Romans’ music, and the band gives it a fresh sound as they play with the rhythms of the instrumental part as well as the amount of voices throughout the band.

“Wasted Age” starts with a screamed motive right off the bat. From there, the music progresses into a verse that also utilizes the screamed vocals until it morphs into cleaner vocals. The music behind these musical ideas are stereotypical for a metal band: it has a steady beat that plays with a groove back-beat that drives the content of the song forward. The band then includes a breakdown in this song that plays with homorhythmic figures throughout the instrumental section that aligns with the vocals to make it more powerful.

“Encoder” starts with an electronic motive that is very different from everything else presented on this album. The electronic sound that is heard in the beginning could be correlated to the musical world of dubstep. The band plays with this motive on its own for a bit, and then they add a characteristic metal instrumental motive overtop it with screamed vocals. However, as the song progresses, the band continues to play off the initial electronic, musical motive so much so that there are small interludes where just that motive plays.

“If There’s Nothing to See” quickly brings their audience back to their characteristic sound with a small guitar feature. This feature leads the listeners to a screamed verse that leads to unison singing (both clean and screamed) of the chorus. We Came as Romans uses this technique in a lot of their music, and it works well for them because it’s something that their fans are used to and they love it; also, it helps them to enhance their lyrics as the instrumental section can keep bringing the heat, for with doubled vocals the instrumental section doesn’t have to hold back.

“Promise Me” starts with a solemn sound like the first track; however, this section leads to a beautiful verse that uses clean vocals. As this verse is sung, the band uses minimal instrumentation to allow the lyrics to fully shine. As a whole, this song is a nice, uplifting work: it does provide a few moments of screamed vocals, but for the most part is uses only clean vocals. The song itself isn’t very musically interesting, instrumentally speaking, but it doesn’t need to be, for it is acting as a ballad on this album, if there were to be one.

“Learning to Survive” starts with a cute little drum motive that starts out solely on the rim until it progresses to lower voiced drums. This small motive is soon welcomed with clean vocals, once the vocals enter, the instrumental section begins to pick up, and all members join once the band reaches the first run of the chorus. As the song progresses, it is important to note that the instrumental content expands on that initial motive that the rimmed drum stated. In the middle of the song, the audience gets a snippet of screamed vocals with more aggressive background content; however, this section fades to almost silence before the initial motive reenters, with the band returning to the chorus shortly after. I don’t think this was a strong choice for the final song on the album, for it doesn’t pack that big of a punch; meaning, this isn’t one of the songs on the album that one walks away remembering after they first listen to it.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I think that We Came as Romans put out a solid album, it shows their audience that they can still produce catchy choruses, heavy breakdowns, and meaningful lyrics. However, I am giving this album a lower rating only because I don’t think it is that memorable, nor do I think I would go out of my way to listen to it. Furthermore, if you’re looking for an average metal album with lyrics that are relevant to the real world, this is the album for you!

*”Cold Like War” was released on October 20, 2017 through Sharptone Records.


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