Fueling the Storm | Posted May 23, 2013 Staff Reviewer
In an era where rock-and-roll has long since left center stage or gone the direction of hollowed-out lyrics slicked over with pop sensibilities, the playing field for solid new rock debuts is more or less a wasteland. Enter We As Human, a five piece rock group who has spent years honing their craft through independent releases and plenty of time on stage. That dedication eventually led to discovery by Skillet frontman John Cooper, who steered major record label Atlantic Records their way.
The result is We As Human's self titled debut, released under the Hear It Loud imprint (a partnership of Cooper, attorney Todd Rubenstein and longtime Skillet manager Zachary Kelm of Q Management Group). In addition to their own impressive arsenal of skills, the We As Human guys drew on talents from other rock industry greats, including producer Howard Benson, who has produced previous cornerstone releases from bands like P.O.D., Skillet, RED and Flyleaf.
Mainstream single "Strike Back" launches the album with a blistering self-confident anthem, the words of the chorus growling over grinding guitars: "I've always said the bigger they are, the harder they fall / You're going to suffer / hit me, I'll hit back harder."
"Dead Man" (previously heard on their initial EP release with Atlantic) channels that initial aggression in another direction, giving voice to the violent struggle with our vices and capturing the way that grace kills who we were in order to bring us to life.
"Bring To Life" slows down enough to create space for the brilliant songwriting to shine, beginning in the restrained verse and building into the earnest and hopeful chorus with the words "You bring to life all that is broken / You can turn the tide before it's too late / 'Cause I'm not afraid of anything when You burn like a fire inside."
Follow-up track "Lay Me Down" offers a haunting intro establishing a darker edge that threads its way throughout the track, underpinning the theme of a desperate need for recreation.
Although the hard-hitting vocals of frontman Justin Cordle can certainly hold their own, the band chose to draw on the talent of some rock vocalists who have become legendary in their own right. "Zombie" features John Cooper of Skillet, a suitable pairing given Cooper's role in discovering and fostering We As Human's talent. This hook-heavy monster serves as a wake-up call to an apathetic society, carried by the powerhouse pairing of Cordle and Cooper's gritty, militant vocals.
CHR single "We Fall Apart" provides the softest moment on the album, exposing the vulnerability of humanity while simultaneously serving as a reminder that no one is alone in their brokenness. That theme is captured in the simple phrase, "we're so imperfect / but so worth it because we're not alone."
"Take The Bullets Away" features the second guest vocalist, Lacey Sturm (formerly of Flyleaf). This is a highlight track in an already solid album, pulling out a guitar solo that's strong without being overbearing and making the most of Sturm's signature scalding screams. The song serves as a plea to God to remove the weapons of our own self destruction, pleading, "Am I worthless, am I filthy? Am I too far gone for the remedy?" A slightly more hopeful voice shapes "Taking Life," a song building from an unusual rhythm in the verses reminiscent of a slightly updated form of rapcore.
Another song from their initial EP, "Sever," heralds the moment of separation from internal sickness, musically framed by the in-your-face guitar riffs provided by guitarists Justin Forshaw and Jake Jones. The album wraps up with a kind of mission statement in "I Stand." In a set of confidently bold statements, the band makes it clear that they're standing for truth in a broken world instead of seeking any recognition the world could offer.
On their major label debut, We As Human steps up to own their identity with a confidence and intensity rarely found even in long-established bands. Their self titled release is a perfect storm of searing riffs, dynamic vocals, and aggression channeled into lyrics fueling the struggle of death to self and rebirth to life. This band will be easy to watch; their explosive energy and bold stand on truth are going to make them impossible to ignore.
Song to Download Now:
"We Fall Apart" (Get it on iTunes here