California quintet Roman Lions have honed an intense, dark but captivating sound that fuses metal and progressive elements and clean, screamed and spoken vocals in what they describe as “emotionally heavy” music.
The band was started by brothers Justin (vocals) and Matt Tracy (drums), who grew up in Baltimore playing in various bands and, upon moving to San Jose, decided it was only natural to start a band together. They teamed up with Justin’s co-worker Robert (guitar, from Shannon in Ireland), who shared similar music interests that formed the foundations of the Roman Lions sound. They then added Kenny, who joined on bass but moved to guitar when Joshua completed the lineup.
Our latest taste of the sound they’ve honed is, given their dark, intense sound, the perhaps aptly titled Negative. It dives straight into a cool darting high-pitched guitar and lively bass and drums supporting intense screamed vocals. Fun rhythmic guitars take over and develop into a twinkling lick as the heavy vocals continue “I will be the great wave, The uncaring ocean, sent to destroy, I’ll be the winter at its darkest, It’s better than feeling worthless.”
Piercing guitars come in through a chorus of more intense vocals “To make our sorrows more bearable, I give up trying to find the balance anymore.” Clean vocals jump in “I find myself lacking, I find myself asking if…” and are answered by a heavier response of “This is the price we pay for the curse of wondering why.”
The drums pick up pace alongside another delicious lick under intense vocals, which build up to another huge chorus that brings the track to a heavy, dark conclusion.
On the track, Matt told us: “It’s been great so far. The first single we released this year (Small Moments) was us pushing into some new territory, and Negative is more in line with our typical sound. People that have been with us since the early days have told us that they love that we’re exploring new sounds but haven’t totally abandoned the style they know us for. In Negative you can expect an aggressive but melodic song, combining screamed and clean vocals, with twinkling guitar and swelling atmosphere.” Check it out in the video below:
As Matt alludes to that follows previous single Small Moments, which opens with atmospheric instrumentals over engaging clean and screamed vocals. Vocals “I hate the sky, I hate the deep blue sea, And everything between. These are my own failings” build up to a more intense section of huge screamed vocals.
That drops into lighter guitars that kick into delicious laid-back chords and rolling drums under intense dual vocals. Another vicious chorus drops into light guitars that continue under spoken vocals that intensify into huge screams and usher in a big atmospheric ending. Check it out in the video here:
Those two singles follow Roman Lions’ 2018 superb debut album Absolutes, which is packed with more vicious intensity like the savagely brilliant Lesser Light and Dragging Anchor plus the delicious Sunsufferer, which you can listen to here:
Roman Lions’ music takes influence from the likes of envy, Hopesfall, Thrice, Touché Amoré, and La Dispute. But band members draw motivation from a wide range of genres, as they also agree on the likes of Pink Floyd, Jeff Buckley, Foo Fighters, and The Cure being major inspirations.
And on what inspires their music, Matt tells us: “I think for most people that play music it’s just something you’re drawn to. Something your heart and mind tells you you have to do. I feel like everyone in this band does it because we have to, or else life would be much less enjoyable.
“My brother Justin writes all the lyrics, and he likes to leave the lyrics open to interpretation. As with most vocalists, the lyrics are drawn directly from personal experiences, mostly bad ones. You might actually find a love song or two in our lineup, but our music is mostly about the things we all dread, like the realization that all there is to look forward to is the void of nothingness that will eventually greet us all. Typical stuff.”
There’s plenty more coming from Roman Lions soon, including a new album that they will be announcing more on soon. They’ll also have gigs and some short tour runs booked in to support the album release.