ALBUM REVIEW: While She Sleeps – SO WHAT?
Photo Credit: Giles Smith
Following their Top Ten UK chart topping success You Are We, While She Sleeps‘ fourth record SO WHAT? showcases a dauntless and defiant continuation of ruthless instrumentals, unabashed lyrical themes and brazen anthemic tracks, that incorporate bold narratives and a new album era that doesn’t steer distantly away from the band’s metalcore sonic identity. Yet the record rebirths melodic styles that cultivate the five-piece’s renowned heavy creativity, under an LP that represents the easiness to perceive without knowledge.
Popular lead single and pre-album track ANTI-SOCIAL affirms what the Sheffield quintet embody. ANTI-SOCIAL opens up the four minute pertinacious piece with a killer riff, amping up the societal and political perspective the candidly critical lyrics narrate. Loz Taylor‘s raw vocals reinstate the heaviness of the group’s repertoire, which is minimally less nuanced than that of You Are We collaborative venture Silence Speaks featuring guest vocals from Bring Me The Horizon‘s Oli Sykes. Yet the track is more enriched in depth of sound, as guitarist Mat Welsh elaborates “We felt excited about ANTI-SOCIAL. It’s such a heavy tune, but it’s a different way of heavy than we’ve been before. In a world where everyone expects you to be softening up or getting more generic, I think it’s fun to just throw out a song that’s just, like, ‘Nope! We’re not doing that!”
In comparison to its single counterparts, HAUNT ME, ELEPHANT and THE GUILT PARTY are largely representative of the sound the album entails. A mass genre concoction of punk and heavy metal, whilst maintaining their metalcore roots. Sean Long and Mat Welsh‘s sharp riffs and bassist Aaran McKenzie alongside Adam Savage‘s bruising instrumental breakdowns emphasis Taylor’s epic singalong choruses, in songs such as THE GUILTY PARTY. A band x choir crossover creates an alluring atmosphere ready to be ripped through via ferocious guitar work, fast tempo drums and eclectic electronics. The accompanying conjunct voices of While She Sleeps lead and the collective choir aim to replicate this ambience at the band’s Camden’s Roundhouse headline show, in an unsuspecting marriage made in metalcore music bliss.
I’VE SEEN IT ALL is instigated by an electrifying guitar opening, promptly pricking up the ears of fans, overlaid by catchy vocal hooks and repetitive lyrics which lull the listener into showing them their sins. Sins aside, heavenly harmonious singing comes into play as serene choir-esque vocals share similarities with THE GUILT PARTY. A seemingly calming contradiction to the heaviness of the Kerrang! cover star’s back catalogue and recent releases.
Stylistically INSPIRE explores electronic techniques that break the boundaries of SO WHAT?‘s solely metalcore material. The track’s electro elements complement ethereal sounds that build up to captivating chorus’ and big bridges, trickling into its title track. Song SO WHAT? questions the record’s representation of never comprehending complete scenarios and making manufactured assumptions, as its narrative reflects “I’ll be waiting for the moment you are out of your comfort zone/Are you afraid of realising your out of control/Did you know you’ll never know.” “SO WHAT? is about how easily we all judge everything before we actually know anything about it,” Mat mulls over the album and applicably its significant song, a down tempo affair that shares similarities to SET YOU FREE‘s gentle opening sequence and GOOD GRIEF‘s humming pre-chorus instrumentals. Whilst pacific on the surface, the above don’t rule out what While She Sleeps symbolise as an ensemble. Raging riffs and arena worthy hooks.
Rounding up the record BACK OF MY MIND injects an intensity of Loz’s renowned scream vocal tones from the get go, with vivaciously lyrical themes surrounding the shredding of one’s skin to uncover an individual’s true identity. Interjected with deep distortions, clattering guitars and quavering volumes, there are dipping breakdowns and rising and falling sound pitches, which are broadly dissimilar to it’s five minute follow-up. GATES OF PARADISE‘s principally steady up-tempo pace is paired with high intensity drum segments and showcases a song that spotlights a serious topical issue under a trademark While She Sleeps musical getup. Bold bass lines, melodic guitars, quick fire drums and explosive vocal artistry form the fundamental basis throughout this fourth six minute musical excursion.
As an entity, the Carl Bown produced SO WHAT? entails elements of electronic work and choral characteristics that doesn’t compromise on the Sheffield cohort’s sonic resonance. Rapid scatters of ardent metal and abrupt hardcore influences unapologetic instrumental breakdowns and arena anthems. Seemingly, SO WHAT? signifies another defiant step in another neoteric album era.
Standout Tracks: THE GUILTY PARTY, I’VE SEEN IT ALL, BACK OF MY MIND
For Fans Of: Bury Tomorrow, Bring Me The Horizon, Asking Alexandria
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood