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We Are the Romans
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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We Are The Romans (Deluxe Edition) (2xCD)
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Vinyl, October 15, 2013
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LIMITED EDITION REPRESSING!! REPRESS: 1000 BLK; 500 CLEAR/BLUE; 300 BABY BLUE; 200 CLEAR Unless you've been living under a rock that's underneath another even bigger rock in a cave in the middle of nowhere, you probably already know what's up with this milestone/motherfucker of an album. Initially released in the year two grand, Botch's final full-length was/is the kind of devastating metallic hardcore explosion that the term ''metallic hardcore'' could/can only aspire to. In fact, these dudes nailed it so hard that the bands that came afterward had to start calling themselves ''metalcore'' out of respect. And today, it's actually even worse: Ever since Botch went tits up back in 2002, there's been a steady, obnoxious stream of MTV2-jocking carpetbaggers that have ripped off our Sea-Tac boys (currently members of esteemed rock outfits like Minus The Bear, These Arms Are Snakes and Roy) riff for riff. We'd name names, but why fuck around with pretenders to the throne when you're already in bed with the kings? So man the goddamn ramparts already, 'cause it's time to burn this motherfucker down. Tracklist A1 To Our Friends In The Great White North 5:10 A2 Mondrian Was A Liar 2:41 A3 Transitions From Persona To Object 6:04 A4 Swimming The Channel Vs. Driving The Chunnel 4:31 B1 C. Thomas Howell As The ''Soul Man'' 4:44 B2 Saint Matthew Returns To The Womb 3:05 B3 Frequency Ass Bandit 4:27 B4 I Wanna Be A Sex Symbol On My Own Terms 3:35 C1 Man The Ramparts 10:51 D1 Untitled 7:27
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The artiness displayed here is nothing short of exceptional, while the musicianship is truly epic, and the vocals bah-roo-ta-hul. The end result is a blistering batch of tunes that are equivalent to trying to solve a calculus problem while being bludgeoned over the head by a crowbar. They make room for some melody, but only a bare minimum -- only enough necessary to be memorable. And the resulting musical product would also prove to be an enormously influential one, as it would go onto inspire legions of imitators like Norma Jean, The Chariot, Every Time I Die, and Psyopus.
And "We Are The Romans" gets better with time, too -- unveiling more standout tracks and memorable parts with almost every listen. "To Our Friends In The Great White North" is a very visceral, brutal, and at times thunderous opening blast that roars by with dizzying speed and furious, throat-scraping screams from frontman Dave Verellen. The song does wind to a much more mellow speed (a melodic breakdown complete with tuneful guitar lines), but inevitably storms back in brutal fashion. As a result, the heavy parts of this track are made to seem all that much more explosive and jarring. Its follow-up, the lightning quick "Mondrian Was A Liar" (which, clocking in at less than three minutes in length, is easily the album's shortest blitzkrieg), is entirely brutal and uncompromising, though. It is a very "Calculating Infinity"-era Dillinger Escape Plan-reminiscent blast of walloping skins, menacing, flowing bass groove, and raw, unnervingly high-pitched vocals.
Next up is the pummeling "Transitions From Persona To Object." It utilizes some brief, whiney guitar feedback and careening shred leads/soloing to go along with its bottom-heavy drum blasts and downtuned, dirty-sounding bass grumble. The end result is a product that sounds not unlike something heard off of Converge's 1997 debut, "Petitioning The Empty Sky" -- that is, until the very end, when "Transitions..." dabbles in experimentalism by adopting a thumping drum beat that feels industrial and/or electronic music-lite. And the next track after it, "Swimming The Channel Vs. Driving The Chunnel," continues exploring this experimental ground, by being an almost 100% more melodic and subdued oasis of an interlude. Its nice, lightly-strummed guitar melody and relaxed, non-threatening drum beat combine together to form a surprising sound that differs greatly from the songs that surround it, and on e that highlights Botch's excellent sense of contrast.
But things immediately swerve back towards familiar territory, as the record's fifth track, "C. Thomas Howell," is a mostly piece of brutal, seething rage and over-the-top hyper-kinesis in the same vein as vintage DEP. With that said, though, this tune does feature a prog-ish breakdown midway through, where a goomily gorgeous guitar and intertwining melodic bass lines are introduced to the mix, creating a richly harmonic bridge that shows off a sharp sense of dynamics. "Saint Matthew Returns To The Womb" is an even bigger standout, though. A heavy, adherent, and certainly very memorable groove (tattooed by the band's usual abundance of throbbing, squealing guitars, cymbal-heavy trapkit blasting, grumbling bass, and topped off by Verellen's bellowed vocals), thus creating one of the record's most mosh-pit-ready moments.
"Frequency Bandit" and the hilariously-entitled "I Wanna Be A Sex Symbol On My Own Terms" are two similar-sounding standouts, as both feature swooping, bobbing guitar licks underpinned by grumbling bass lines and crashing cymbals. (Only the former of these two tunes can also claim to boast an especially memorable, brutal, and explosively grinding, cascading riff slice at around the two-and-a-half-minute mark, though. And the latter of them is further highlighted by a noteworthy bass intro, and inventive, stop-and-go tempo'ing.)
The album eventually winds to a close with "Thank God For Worker Bees," which, following a lengthy leg of silence, comes kicking and clawing back in, mauling your eardrums with the usual Botch noise and dissonance. But this is not before we are first treated to "Man The Ramparts," a track that is easily the set's biggest highpoint. This eleven-minute-long epic opens on a sincerely dramatic note with pounded tom-tom drums and fairly melodic guitar/bass work. But the vocals eventually come screaming onto the scene, thus taking the listener into heavy and dissonant territory. Here, electronic-sounding guitar spider webs are spun around noteworthy low, distorted bass grumbles, before the song segues through a lengthy, trippy, reverb-heavy choir/chant vocal section. And this is all just lead-in to one final and powerful climax, where the band come thundering back in with a fairly devastating main riff and more grinding, larynx-lacerating noisecore screaming.
Brutal, carefully-calculated, and peppered with a few well-placed melodic sections, "We Are The Romans" is about as well-rounded an affair as you are ever going to find in the genre. Furthermore, it should satisfy just about any type of fan -- those that are craving viscerally brutal, grindcore-worthy extremity; and those that are looking for something that is ingeniously-written, and interwoven with nuanced complexities and intricacies. All of which makes, "Romans" is a concrete-solid case for Botch being one of the finest and most original, influential, and intelligent math/noise/grind/hard/metalcore bands of the late '90's/early ;00's.