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Romans - All Those Wrists (8/10) - USA - 2008

Genre: Metalcore / Post Rock
Label: Black Market Activites
Playing time: 23:10
Band homepage: Romans

Tracklist:

  1. The Last Fifty-Eight Quatrains Of The Seventh Century
  2. Nail, Nail, Nail
  3. All Those Wrists
  4. Mankean
  5. Tidepool
  6. Towing Anchors
  7. Depths
  8. Smear Merchant
  9. All The Sons Are Fading
  10. Carve Up And Give Way
  11. Tiny Bomb
  12. Something To Do With Death
Romans - All Those Wrists

Upon hearing the name ROMANS and the genre, people could be forgiven for thinking that this Metalcore act located in Vermont are a BOTCH rip off / clone. They could also be forgiven for being very wrong. ROMANS are not a BOTCH rip off, they are not your usual Metalcore act, and they are not generic. They’re a band with a few things up their sleeve, a band with just a few tricks for you to hear. Yes, they’re aggressive as hell, and yes, they have a vocalist whose screams you will have a hard time of understanding, that might seem like pretty standard stuff, but they also have slow, atmospheric build ups, crushing slow riffs and a depressing atmospheric atmosphere. ROMANS play a unique mix of Post Metal and CONVERGE style Metalcore, and if that isn’t a reason to get excited about an album I don’t know what is.

The album starts like you might expect, with crazed riffing and screams from the vocalist, the band pull off this aggressive crazy Metalcore well, and it works especially well on the second track, where the singer screams despairingly “There is no line / There is no line!” In fact, the album doesn’t begin to show it’s Post Metal flourishes until the third track, where you get treated to a heavier more mid paced riff and some excellent atmospheric work in the middle. After this; the album is all over the place, from purely Post Rock tracks (“Mankean”, “All The Sons Are Fading”, “Tiny Bomb”) to straight out Metal core (“Towing Anchors”, “Smear Merchant”) the album never really stops in one single place long enough for you to get bored. This is also further utilised by the short song lengths, which average somewhere between one and two minutes. This eclectic and dynamic song writing approach both helps and hurts the overall effect of All Those Wrists, on the one hand, the album leaves you wanting more after its 23 minute run time, but on the other hand, it makes it hard for the band to get into a good flow with any of the songs.

The most enjoyable moments of the album are when the band mix their Metalcore and Post Metal styles together, songs like “Carve Up And Give Away” and “Tidepool” really shine with their unique approach and execution, with the latter being one of the most atmospheric and crushing pieces on the entire album. Unfortunately, these moments are too rare to have as big an impact as they could have had, which once again is down to the length of the album, if this album was about fifteen minutes longer it could have been exceptional.

The production and atmosphere (through the more Post-y moments) on the album is just perfect. Every instrument has just the right amount of bite, and the vocals are very suitable for the music. The vocalist has a style similar to Jacob Bannon, but with slightly less intensity. He utilises both screams and an array of different clean vocals. His voice is both suitable for getting the aggression and intensity needed in the heavier moments and the despair and isolation in the slower more atmospheric moments. But like I’ve already said, the biggest flaw about the album is the length, and even the singer suffers for it, had he had more time to play around in the songs then we might have seen more of his clean vocals, or more aggressive screaming in places. Instead, we get a small bit of each here and there, not lasting long enough to have a big impact.

Still though, for what it’s worth, “All Those Wrists” is a great record. At twenty minutes long it’s impossible to be tired of it by the end, and the professionalism shown is great from such a young band. After the final amazing notes of “Something To Do With Death” you’ll be wanting- no, begging for more, these guys have all the potential in the world, I can’t wait to see what they do with it on future albums.

(Online October 14, 2008)

Raven Blackburn



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