Troy, Michigan’s We Came As Romans have always been described as melodic metalcore, but never has the metal been as strong as on their new self-titled Equal Vision Records release. Nor, for that matter, has the metalcore. For album number four the six-piece has honed both extremes of their sound, holding their songwriting to incredibly strict standards in order to push their melodic sense without sacrificing the brutality, aggression and energy.
To push into this slightly more rock direction the band worked with producer David Bendeth, who has previously produced or mixed Crossfaith, Breaking Benjamin, Asking Alexandria, and Paramore, to name a few. The veteran producer brought a strict sense of quality control to the sessions.
“We started with 15 songs going in that Louie [Cotton, guitarist] and I had written and when we went in for pre-production they all ended up cut,” lead guitarist Joshua Moore says. “David said ‘All of these are mediocre. You’re just writing these to be good enough, not to test your limits!’ It gave us a swift kick in the ass so we started all over again.”
From there the band rewrote the entire album, and even some of the rewrites ended up being cut. Ultimately a list of about 40 songs was culled down to 10 songs for a tight 33 minutes 33 seconds.
Moore and Cotton complement work as a guitar team, each staking out their own sonic territory but with respect to the other’s sound too. Orange Amplification takes care of backline duties, with Moore plugging into a Dual Dark 100 head and Cotton using a Rockerverb. “Those heads give us the clean tone for all our melodic, pretty parts but also the heavy parts as well.”
Lou Cotton plays ESP Eclipse models with EMG 81 and 85 active humbuckers. Cotton admits to having a sizeable collection of ESPs. “Because I play a lot of the rhythm stuff I just feel the EMGs are perfectly balanced for that kind of stuff,” he says.
Meanwhile Moore uses Ibanez FR models, including two Prestige instruments and two from the L.A. Custom Shop, loaded with Bare Knuckle Aftermath passive humbuckers or Seymour Duncan JB and ’59s. “I used to play active pickups as well but as we started writing cleaner guitar parts I liked the response and warmth of passives so I switched,” Moore says.
“We did this thing way back in the day which was a horrible idea: we wrote in every tuning possible!” continues Moore. “So when we were headlining we had guitars in four different tunings each! As long as nothing goes wrong it’s okay but when you have 12 different wireless frequencies for each member, and wireless microphones and wireless in-ears, sometimes there’s that one show where you get a radio station coming through your amp!”
Moore’s choice of Ibanez guitars was initially inspired by August Burns Red’s JB Brubaker. “I got an RGA Prestige when I was 18, he says. “We were unsigned and still a local band and we’d played a few shows opening up for August Burns Red. I ended up buying an Ibanez back in the day because JB had one! I literally just searched for the model he used and I bought that exact one. I thought, If I buy his guitar I’ll be really good and then our band will be signed and we’ll go somewhere! I told JB that story once when I was a little intoxicated and full of courage and he just laughed.”