ALBUM: WE ARE THE ROMANS
LABEL (YEAR): HYDRA HEAD (1997)
FOR FANS OF: THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, BRONTIDE, RUSSIAN CIRCLES
Words by Gummo Clare
Botch were an American group, seen as one of the central bands involved in the development of mathcore, a rhythmically complex fusion of elements of mathrock, hardcore punk and metal (amongst other influences). While We Are The Romans is undoubtedly filled with intricate polyrhythms and technically impressive playing by all members, it never descends into the proggy wankery that marked the work of many other mathcore bands. Instead, the album sounds to my ears far more deeply rooted in hardcore, and the complexity of some of the musicianship only serves to stoke the ferocity of songs like the openers, ‘To Our Friends in the Great White North and Mondrian Was a Liar’. Dave Verellen’s vocal performance is great throughout, offering a good balance between a punk style of delivery and the harsh vocals found in modern metal.
Tracks such as ‘Swimming the Channel vs. Driving the Channel’ offer some let-up from the rest of the album’s aggression, on which you can hear the kind of ambient post-metal leanings that the bass guitarist, Brian Cook, would go on to develop in his current (and also fantastic) band, Russian Circles. As it happens, after Botch’s breakup, all of its members have gone on to play in forward-thinking and influential bands.
We Are The Roman is a brilliant final album from a great band, and definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of hardcore, good metal, and heavy music in general.