Review Summary: Far and away one of the best metal albums of all time.
If you aren’t convinced that Botch was one of the most innovative metal bands of all time, consider this: "C. Thomas Howell as the 'Soul Man'" takes aim at former punk band Racetraitor, featuring current members of Fall Out Boy, for fabricating controversial attitudes solely for the purpose of gaining popularity. Now, if knowing that the guys in Fall Out Boy were tools before they even existed as a band isn’t ahead of the curve, I don’t know what
is. And if we’re going to talk about being cutting edge, you don’t have to look much further than Botch’s last full-length, We Are The Romans
: from the advanced riffs to the socially conscious concepts to the pioneering mathcore style, this album proves to be one of the most influential albums of the entire metal genre, and easily one the best metal albums of all time.
First thing’s first, what you can expect from Botch is a style that they constructed ten years ago, but is an effort that puts most current metal albums to shame. On We Are The Romans
, Botch perfected their own complex version of metalcore, featuring numerous and unusual time signatures and time changes, and the result is flurry of towering, dexterous guitar riffs within a complex yet coherent structure. Highlighted by the versatile guitar wizardry of Dave Knudson, who squeaks, squeals, scrapes and screeches at any opportunity he gets, We Are The Romans
hosts a flurry of punishing riffs with grooves deeper than quicksand. And if the sheer ferocity of the riffs swirling like a rollercoaster wasn’t enough, vocalist Dave Verellen’s forward-thinking growl and the rhythm section’s heavy anchor, featuring the fuzzy wet bass tone of Brian Cook, will keep you coming back for more.
To get a feel of the band’s ever-changing time signatures, ridiculously heavy riffs and intricate structures, “Mondrian Was a Liar” would be one of the better places to start: featuring constant shifts between 5/4 and 6/8, the intro features a back-and-forth chaos of guitar squeals, off-center bass and drum grooves, and ferocious screams. In the same vein, songs like “Saint Matthew Returns to the Womb”, “Frequency Ass Bandit” and “I Wanna Be a Sex Symbol On My Own Terms” will grab your throat with every twist and turn with the exotic ideas, shifts and changes coupled with the rambunctious and unrestrained riffs.
And as ruthless as Botch can be when they pile on the chaos, subdued elements and progressive tendencies also shine on We Are The Romans
. “Transitions from Persona to Object” features a flurry of riffs in 5/8, 4/4 and 5/4 in the intro before the song smoothly shifts into a more stable melodic section and finishes off with a repeating guitar line drifting in and out of heavy riffs. The aforementioned "C. Thomas Howell as the 'Soul Man'" slows right down in mid-section before exploding at the end, and closer “Mann The Ramparts” features a more straightforward, free-form structure, and even takes the time to lay down some Gregorian chants within it’s ten minute length. It would have been a touch overbearing if Botch didn’t ease up here and there, and thankfully, We Are The Romans
is as tasteful and creative as it is heavy.
Quite frankly, when you listen to We Are The Romans
, you’ll be dumbstruck: not only do the riffs, progressions, structures and lyrics shine brilliantly, but they do so even ten years after the fact. It always amazes me how they can accomplish such a smooth flow and coherency amongst the merciless riffs and complex structures, and it’s ultimately a no-brainer that We Are The Romans
should be considered as royalty within the metal community. There are no over-used formulas here, no rip-offs, no shameful imitations and no tired ideas: Botch has created a masterpiece that every fan of metal should absolutely check out, because, quite frankly, it deserves to rub elbows with the greats of the genre. Innovative, hard-hitting, and just far and away one of the best metal albums of all time.