We Came As Romans launched their debut album in 2009 with “To Plant a Seed” and it is still their flagship album making the rounds on my playlists. In many ways, the guys laid the foundation of their sound with a good mix of growling/clear vocals, solid drums, a bit of synthesizers and killer guitar riffs. In the case of many bands, debut albums will always be the measuring stick.
“Tracing Back Roots” is the band’s third studio album which features only one original band member since they started back in 2005. WCAR’s success is cemented by their constant fan engagement, positive lyrics and the sense that what they are doing carries a higher purpose. The group has seen its fair share of band member changes, but they prevailed with three albums and 8 years later WCAR is still delivering upbeat messages to the masses.
One of the biggest changes in “Tracing Back Roots” compared to their first two studio albums is the dominating and lower pitched clear voice of David Stephens. His vocals provide a necessary break from Kyle Pavone’s high pitched vocals, often criticized by fans for being too “pitchy”. David’s vocal range between screams and clean notes are refreshingly good. Kyle’s vocals also feature in a manageable register with the inclusion of subtle autotunes.
The title track on the new album is hard hitting and leaves listeners wanting more. “Tracing Back Roots” is one of the heavier tracks that show promise with a creative blend of instruments, vocals and melodies. The first couple of tracks shine, while most of the album leaves much to be desired. “Fade Away” is a catchy track with progressive drums and sing-along chorus. “I Survive” (guests Aaron Gillespie from The Almost) reminds me of an 80’s anthem song but slowly mutates with a WCAR twist featuring the best lyrics on the album. “Hope” is the first single from the album which was released in January, but was also a bonus track from the deluxe edition of their last album. “Hope” inspires with uplifting lyrics and a catchy group chorus that will light up live concerts as they chant “We won’t fall to our knees, We are the one true hope, So give me an answer, Are you in or you out?”
Highlight tracks: “Tracking Back Roots,” “Face Away,” “I Survive” and “Hope”
WCAR’s third studio album is in many ways an improvement on their previous release. There are signs of change and a strong longing to push the boundaries. Their lyrics are positively driven with messages of hope and inspiration. Diehard fans will appreciate WCAR’s efforts and that in a way will carry them to their next album. The album will however not please most metalcore fans looking for the usual edginess and to the bone hard driven lyrics and guitar riffs.
“Tracing Back Roots” presents itself as a well produced package but in a way the album does not provide clear direction of what it wants to achieve. There is often a sense that the songs are just chugging away whilst carrying the lyrics with tracks like “Through the Darkest Dark and Brightest Bright,” “I am free” and “A moment”. The overuse of stutter effects is another small point to note.
This is perhaps the most “radio ready” album WCAR has produced. This isn’t always a bad thing considering they might open doors to a wider fan base. The album is not terrible but it’s also not their best work. One can’t deny their efforts to change their sound with tracks like “I Survive” and “Hope” which can be a catalyst for things to come. It is still a solid album for their genre and the inclusion of David Stephens on clear vocals will leave WCAR fans with much to look forward too.
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|1||“Tracing Back Roots”||03:39|
|3||“I Survive (featuring Aaron Gillespie of The Almost)”||04:09|
|5||“Present, Future, and Past”||03:27|
|6||“Never Let Me Go”||03:37|
|8||“Tell Me Now”||03:16|
|10||“I Am Free”||03:33|
|11||“Through the Darkest Dark and Brightest Bright”||03:44|