Review: We Came As Romans – ‘Darkbloom’

When it was announced in August 2018 that We Came As Romans vocalist Kyle Pavone had died at the tragically young age of 28 due to an accidental overdose, the metalcore world was shaken up, and the future of the Michigan-based group was looking uncertain. All the unsteady anticipation was resolved when a month later, they stated that Pavone would not be replaced, and as a result, they would be going out on a number of tours over the next few years with bands such as Bullet for My Valentine, Crown the Empire and Bad Omens. Then, in June 2022, the band announced their first album in 5 years titled Darkbloom – a hauntingly heartbreaking and beautiful record about self-reflection, love, grief, and, of course, death.

It’s crystal clear even to the most uninformed listener that this album is solely written about, and dedicated solely to, Pavone – and it serves as a very touching tribute to him. Unapologetically heavy and raw in its lyrical form, it’s a deeply personal record for now full-time vocalist Dave Stephens, that takes no prisoners and doesn’t hold back. But despite this change in personnel, the classic WCAR formula that fans know and love remains unchanged, as they keep true to their blend of monstrous riffs and stabby synths.

It’s tracks like ‘Plagued’ and ‘Black Hole’ that helps to really show off the versatile abilities of Stephens, as he balances the switch between clean and unclean vocals flawlessly, proving that their decision in not seeking out a new vocalist to fill the gap was the correct choice. And while these tracks are led more by hefty guitars and drums, there are tracks such as ‘One More Day’ that show the band can take on a more slower and impactful style too. The lyrics within this song in particular are especially hard-hitting, like a punch to your stomach, as Stephens sings “I always thought that we’d have more time / But it passed us by, while we were dreaming / I swear I asked you a thousand times / Always said you’re fine, but you were sinking”. The vulnerability in these words will send shivers down anybody’s spine.

And then there’s the final track ‘Promise You’ – a track that is sure to not leave a dry eye in the room. It sounds as if Stephens has cut his chest open and gently placed his heart on his sleeve, as he delivers such an incredibly emotional and powerful vocal performance that is surely a career definer for him. And as the last verse reverberates into the fade out, “And I promise you, I will never stop saying your name”, it closes the book on the band’s 4-year journey through the grief of losing someone so beloved and special to their sound, and, yet, opens another book of them looking up and onwards to the future.

Darkbloom is, in short, quite a hard listen. It’s an album that is so fervent and heavy in emotion, yet also very moving and intensely beautiful. It proves to the fans that despite the changes they are going through and will go through from that day on, there are no plans to stop the reckoning force that is the We Came As Romans train – it has merely just changed tracks, but it’s still well on its way towards its destination. Whether you’re a fan of the band or a newcomer to their sound, Darkbloom is an album not to miss.

Available now via SharpTone Records, more information here.

Review – Joe Richardson

Find We Came As Romans Online

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