Eschewing hip-hop elements and influences, Alabama hardcore outfit Gideon returns with a metallic, crunchy slugfest that is More Power More Pain (Rude Records/Equal Vision), the bruisers’ sixth full-length record.
Studies show that heavy music inspires some of the most loyal listeners globally among fans of all genres. This isn’t a surprise to most of us with a taste for heavier music, since most mainstream music is mildly annoying at worst and nails on a chalkboard horrid at worst. One style of music that often doesn’t get enough credit is post-Rock, often a sonic kaleidoscope of moods, ebb, and flow, and cathartic releases. Even though it’s many fans will shout from a mountain top, or in a Reddit community about their undying love for these bands, they are still not often top of mind when average fans rattle off “Most Anticipated albums lists”. Still, The End Of The Ocean is a band that inspires the highest devotion, since their last full-length album until now was Pacific-Atlantic and their 2012 EP In Excelsis was their last new music until now. The band spent 2018 reconnecting musically and writing again, producing the comeback album, -aire (Equal Vision).
As expected, We Came As Romans (Spinefarm/Equal Vision/Caroline) continues the move away from the harder metalcore of the band’s origins, a journey the band instigated on 2013’s Tracing Back Roots (Equal Visions/Nuclear Blast/Caroline), as We Came As Romans seek to further establish a more hard rock, song-driven sound. ‘Who Will Pray’ and ‘The World I Used To Know’ are strong, earnest, electronic-tinged pop metal, while ‘Blur’ and ‘Regenerate’ espouse the values of wringing more forceful, heavier verses that lead into open fan-interaction-friendly choruses. When it works, WCAR produce punchy, catchy anthems not a million miles away from the furrow that more recent Of Mice And Men ploughs.
Self-titling an album is an interesting concept, effectively stating that this is the defining album; this is one that all fans and pundits alike should look to as the crucial release in a bands’ canon. It’s a dangerous approach, especially when said eponymous release isn’t a bands first and is used to promote a refinement or change in style, and WCAR is not an unmitigated success. In equal measures the album is also littered with faceless and patchy songs, that, while decent in their own right, stick no longer in the memory than last Wednesday’s commute to work, and in ‘Saviour of the Weak’ they have produced an insipid number that All Time Low would pass over.
The stylistic shift isn’t the issue, indeed it’s a progression and a step that WCAR are quite right to take, but while WCAR may establish a new identity, it actually sees the band lose some of its definition and competitive advantage, at points sliding them somewhat into the morass of eels of contemporary once-were-core hard rock bands. Despite the head-turning darker closing track ’12.30’, as a “statement” album WCAR falls short on the confidence and, in places, songs of a Hail To The King (Warners). While it achieves the aim in relocating the Michigan sextet more into the mainstream, a spot they seem comfortable in, it falls short in making a declaration of any real intent.