Autobiographical Order No. 214: Botch – We Are the Romans

We don’t really choose when we discover music. That maybe seems obvious, but a lot of the time, we end up hearing something much later than the time in which it was released. We maybe miss out on being able to experience it while it was right in front of us—so to speak.

I was aware of Botch back when I was in college, but I had never heard them. A friend of mine went to see The Murder City Devils at the now-closed Cane’s Bar and Grill, and reported back by saying the opening band was some terrible hardcore band. That band was Botch. You saw that coming.

Looking back, I can say pretty easily that I regret not going to that show, because I now listen to and love Botch’s music. But back then? I might not have. I wasn’t listening to a lot of heavy music at the time, and I probably would have shrugged. (As it is, I’m not that big of a Murder City fan either, so I’m sure it just didn’t seem like a big deal regardless.) I discovered Botch’s music about six or seven years later, however, and it blew my mind. Their music was rhythmically complex, heavy but melodic, intricate but thunderous. And they have a similar approach to one of my other favorite bands, Converge, so that’s a major plus. But Botch broke up not long after that one show in San Diego that my friend hated, so it’s sort of moot. I had no idea that this band was one I would come to appreciate later. We can’t plan that.

However, I do have their music to revisit on my turntable. After Hydra Head announced they were no longer releasing new music (which has since proven to be not entirely true), they ended up doing a series of reissues here and there, including this album, which was on my shortlist for a long time.

We Are the Romans isn’t the kind of album you can just put on, relax and vibe out to. It’s extremely intense and aggressive, and features some pretty nutso arrangements. Which is exactly why I love it. You can hear it 100 times and still pick up on something new each time, because there’s so much going on. Heavy music provides more intellectual stimulation than a lot of naysayers care to acknowledge. But then again, sometimes I just put this on so I can rock the fuck out. Maybe I didn’t discover this band in a timely fashion, but I have their music now, and that’s still pretty good.

Rating: 9.4

Sound Quality: Great

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