Review Summary: Hard to say if WCAR is shooting themselves in the foot or simply going through growing pains.
One of my first thoughts when listening to songs from this album was, "At least no one will be able to accuse them of not evolving/sticking to the same sound." Compare their debut album To Plant a Seed to this new album, and you'd think you were listening to a different band entirely. The sad thing is, we really should've seen it coming after Tracing Back Roots, which did tone things down a little bit.
Once considered a metalcore band of sorts, you will now find almost no screams in this album at all ("Regenerate," "Tear It Down" and "Defiance" being the exceptions). Instead, now we get radio-friendly songs that range from heavier rock to straight up pop rock to the point where I actually thought of Imagine Dragons at a point or two. For a band that once was more similar to The Devil Wears Prada, that's a pretty big change.
The end result probably isn't one that will be very popular. Many of the metalcore faithful will probably be raging about this genre change if they hadn't already on the last album. Honestly, though, the genre change doesn't particularly bother me that much in principle. I actually liked TBR the best out of their albums, so the idea of continuing to tone down the heaviness didn't worry me (although I didn't expect this much of a change). The problems with this album lie elsewhere.
To be fair, it is pretty decently catchy at times. "The World I Used to Know" works out better than most of the other songs with some strong vocals and thought-provoking lyrics. "Tear It Down" is a fun little rocker that could've just as easily been a TBR b-side. The album isn't particularly boring. They throw just enough diversity at us to keep that from happening, and the album's also pretty short--if it had 13 songs, it would've been more of a mess.
But overall, the quality of the production/music itself has gone down badly since the days of To Plant a Seed and Understanding What We've Grown to Be. While those albums weren't spectacular, they were engaging. This album, on the other hand, just doesn't have much to offer on the sound front. It's all too generic, which is *not* something I have come to expect from this band. Also, the lyrics, while not horrible (although "Savior of the Week" is all-around ridiculous), aren't what they used to be either. They used to be a bit more sophisticated than what we hear here.
We Came As Romans is developing a bit of a weird history. If this or TBR were the debut album, it would be looked upon perhaps as something with promise, and then if To Plant a Seed or UWWGTB were the most recent album, they would be praised for their musical and lyrical maturity. It seems as if WCAR is actually devolving, to some degree. I don't necessarily have a problem with the genre changes that they're doing, but the delivery has to be better than this. The bottom line is, this album is probably going to have a hard time finding much positive feedback due in part to turning away the band's metalcore fans. The mediocre quality of the album will likely turn away many others. It's saddening for an album that's really not that bad--and one could certainly do worse--but then one has to remind themselves that it's not very good either.
Song Highlights: "The World I Used to Know," "Tear It Down"