Make no mistake, We Came As Romans is a post-hardcore band that is going to be big one day soon. Their music is cutting-edge, aggressive, unique, and has thrust them into the spotlight of the post-hardcore/screamo genre. This music is not for the faint of heart. However, it is made for the pure of heart. To Plant A Seed is a sensational debut album that amassed a lot of praise and attention for its fantastic balance of clean and unclean vocals, its heavy breakdowns and its adept use of synthesizers to add an extra kick to the music. But it also deserves the attention of people who enjoy listening to music with a positive message of hope and love for mankind. We Came As Romans can scream and make you deaf with the best of them, but they do it while spreading words of encouragement and peace, whether the listener is aware of it or not.
Calling them a Christian band would be too simple; while some of its members are Christian, lead guitarist Joshua Moore denied the Christian band label, stating that the group just has a positive message, making the music more accessible to everyone. Everyone who can handle a little screaming and heavy instruments, that is. As is the case with most post-hardcore bands, there is a screamer (David Stephens) and a clean vocalist (Kyle Pavone). However, the nearly perfect balance of the two is uncanny and ingeniously administered, giving each song an unpredictable nature that makes each switch between the two all the more dramatic. Stephen’s guttural growls leave little to be desired, while Pavone’s sugary-sweet voice characterizes each song, sounding like a combination of Hawthorne Heights’ frontman JT Woodruff and A Change Of Pace’s former lead singer Torry Jasper (back when A Change Of Pace was worth listening to). Between double bass pedal drumming, synthesizers, fierce bass and guitar from Andrew Glass, Brian Cotton and Joshua Moore, and the perfect alternating vocal combo, an entrancing brand of music is forged that lives up to the hype and is impossible to deny.
“To Plant A Seed” wastes no time in asserting the musical talent and authoritative tone of the group with a thunderous drumming intro that testifies to Eric Choi’s insane skills. This song about love growing in our hearts uses the effective metaphor of a seed of love being planted in our beings and spreading. The heavy throwdowns leave little to be desired, especially when they lead into Pavone’s pure voice. It’s true that autotuning makes anyone’s voice sound better, but Pavone’s dulcet tones provide temporary relief from the heavy breakdowns and act as the perfect complement to Stephens’ screaming. The balance is on display from the beginning, as Stephens provides the hardcore base while Pavone supplements the aggression with its polar opposite, making the music more dramatic and effective. The tempo slows for the last minute as Pavone is given his opportunity to shine to background vocals and synthesizers. This makes the dramatic tension paramount, an impressive hallmark of We Came As Romans’ music.
“Broken Statues” begins with a nifty little keyboard and synth intro before exploding into killer guitar hooks and quality screaming. This is a purely epic album, and songs like this prove it. This song is about confronting sins and forgiveness, characterized by the desperate proclamations of “Show me your hands, let me wash them clean.” The addition of violins and the synth adds an even more powerful touch, especially for the climactic last minute of Pavone and Stephens singing together, blaring guitars and booming drums. The song ends with the same synth and keyboard intro, bringing this post-hardcore gem to a close.
“Roads That Don’t End And Views That Never Cease” starts off with Stephens’ ferocious roars and heavy drumming that does not seem to be going anywhere extraordinary, but then Pavone comes in with a simply incredible chorus accompanied by an awesome synth scheme. The mix of hardcore verses with the catchier chorus makes this song about missing a loved one who is far away the best on the album. The climax of this track might be To Plant A Seed‘s most epic, bursting forth from a catchy synth ditty into Pavone and Stephens singing their own respective parts at the same time (known as a “fugue”) to a backdrop of blazing guitars, drums and synths. Even though the screams may hide some of the beauty behind the lyrics, a closer look reveals how deep and heart-wrenching they are. Pavone’s spot-on singing makes the song even more heartfelt, and absolute perfection is all that comes to mind when it closes with piano and the soft declaration: “This is how we love.”
“Dreams” features a sweet little drumming intro before Pavone’s words establish the song’s theme of desperation mixed with notions of being noble in the face of darkness. This song is about being God’s love here on earth and how we all struggle here on earth together as brothers. It also reflects the album’s trend of harder verses reverting back to Pavone for the signature line: “This is how I show you my love.” This is one of the heavier songs on the album and although it doesn’t really end on a thrilling note, it’s a compelling track that furthers the message of hope and love, which may be why the band likes to finish live performances with it.
A lot of people aren’t sold on the concept of a hardcore band with a positive message, calling it a bit ironic and almost contradictory in nature, but bands like We Came As Romans will soon change that misconception. This group has a great message and the way they choose to spread it is effective, reaching a wider, younger and more diverse audience than your run-of-the-mill, lighter Christian rock bands. Every member of the group owns his part, and the way they join together is masterful. Even people who aren’t fans of hardcore music have to admit there’s something special going on after giving To Plant A Seed a listen.
This might not be for the faint of heart, but those who are able to stomach a few screams and look beyond the harder elements will find compelling lyrics accompanied by a musical fervor that rivals any other hardcore/screamo band out there today. This includes the likes of similar bands like Underoath, The Devil Wears Prada, Of Mice & Men, Blessthefall, I See Stars, Attack Attack!, and Asking Alexandria. To Plant A Seed certainly creates high expectations for the upcoming album, Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be, but fans should be comforted by the fact that the group has stated many times they are not selling out or changing their style. The first song released from the upcoming album, “To Move On Is To Grow,” relieved a lot of concern with a fantastic music video, and even with Pavone’s silly mustache, if this is any indicator of the future of this innovative group, the sky is the limit. This is a guarantee: We Came As Romans is going places.
Final Score: 9.2/10
Rank: 1st (two total albums)
- To Plant A Seed
- Broken Statues
- Roads That Don’t End And Views That Never Cease
- We Are The Reasons
- I Will Not Reap Destruction
- Searching, Seeking, Reaching, Always
- An Ever-Growing Wonder