Detroit-based quintet We Came As Romans have released their sophomore album Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be this week via Equal Vision Records. The album showcases the elements of 2009′s To Plant a Seed that their fans loved, but shows little evolution as artists.
To Plant a Seed was a well-written, brilliantly executed post-hardcore album. It’s heavy, hard-hitting breakdowns, intricate and expertly crafted drum beats, and the dual vocals of David Stephens (screams) and Kyle Pavone (cleans) became unmistakable indicators of We Came As Romans. Great things were expected for their second release, however, the results are disappointing.
Halfway through listening to Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be it’s apparent that, as a listener, there’s no real way to tell how many songs have passed. This is one of the main downfalls of the album, as the songs all seem to blend together into one and sound extremely similar. Another major fault would have to be the studio work on Pavone’s vocals. They have begun to sound altered, taking away from his already incredible sound. The effects intended to increase his range are not needed and are something that come off as very unnecessary.
The twelve-track album does certainly have high points outside of these two large criticisms, however. The opening song, “Mis//Understanding,” is bound to be a favorite track for the hypocritical reason that it is familiar. Fans always want to see a band progress, but in this case, they will find solace in the track as it is a strong reminder of the band’s debut effort. “A War Inside” also sticks out for its rather unexpected, soft interlude about halfway through. It really throws the listener off, but remains a very solid work. The final track is also memorable, as it focuses more on the vocals of Pavone than Stephens, as well as some fantastic group vocals. It offers a different feel from the rest of the album, which is definitely a relief.
Now don’t get the wrong idea. Understanding What We’ve Grown to Be is a fair album, and will most likely be a success for the band. It is in keeping with much of the style of today’s post hardcore bands, that makes an album successful (yet not necessarily great). It will most likely become another album that is memorable for the genre but not overly original or a standout in it’s field.