June 11, 2015 While She Sleeps – Brainwashed (Album Review)
Rarely does one find as many insurgent musical styles and generational movements as they do in the United Kingdom. Starting with the Beatles in the early ’60s to Rock bands like Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin in the late ’60s, then moving on to the Punk scene in the ’70s and up to the peak of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the ’80s and ’90s, the UK has had its thumb on the pulse of what is next in the world of music. The latest scene is full of an aggressive rebellion that speaks to the troubled youth of the times, and consists of bands such as Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon from the melodic Metalcore Premier League in the United Kingdom. Selling millions of albums and packing out entire arenas in Europe and beyond, this new wave spits out bands like a veritable tsunami.
One of the acts on the rise is the Sheffield’s five-piece While She Sleeps. Formed in 2006, While She Sleeps released their debut EP, titled The North Stands For Nothing, in 2010 through Good Fight Music, followed by their successful debut full-length record This Is The Six in 2012, which landed immediately at #2 in the UK Rock & Metal Albums Chart that same year. Excessive touring followed throughout Europe, the UK and the United States, washing While She Sleeps onto the shores of the biggest venues by supporting the likes of aforementioned Bring Me The Horizon, In Flames, Parkway Drive, Motionless in White, and Papa Roach, just to name just a few. They followed up with sets on the biggest festival stages around such as Reading, Bestival, Rock Am Ring, Rock Im Park, Greenfield, Graspop, Summerbreeze, Soundwave Australia and the US Vans Warped Tour that underlined the notoriety of the band, taking them to next step in their career.
With their newest album, Brainwashed, released in the US on April 21st through the Razor & Tie label, While She Sleeps raised the bar, offering fans an album that is devastatingly harsh and yet full of enthralling melodies. After vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor’s 2014 surgery on his vocal cords kept the band from touring any more that year, While She Sleeps have fully bounced back and are now ready for action. Taylor, along with band members Mat Welsh and Sean Long on guitars, Adam Savage on drums, and Aaran Mckenzie on bass, took eleven melodic hate anthems and four instrumentals and infused them with breakneck character. Appointed with a crystal clear and brutal production, Brainwashed was recorded by Carl Bown (Trivium), mixed by Colin Richardson (Bullet For My Valentine, As I Lie Dying) and mastered by Grammy Award winner Ted Jensen, giving listeners a sense of the high ambitions of the band and production team.
In between these deluges of power hungry mania, the band manages to aerate the album with acoustic, instrumental interludes such as the piano driven “Kangeazu Ni,” letting the listener breathe a bit between other bomb dropping, high speed, grooving monster tracks. The second song, “New World Torture,” is the perfect reference to this, crashing through the speakers and offering everything a perfect Metalcore hymn needs. The song “The Legacy” is introduced by the instrumental titled “We Are Alive At Night,” giving listeners a sense of what While She Sleeps has accomplished with this sophomoric album. The video for the track is like a documentary of the band’s history and is incredibly entertaining, but also crammed with heaviness as well as ntensity. The song sparges the listener’s ear canals in an almost casual manner, and is a sprinkling of music surrounded by an all consuming tidal wave of aural assault. In “No Sides No Enemies” and “Life In Tension,” While She Sleeps clearly shows their musical influences, bringing Iron Maiden-like dual guitar harmonies and ear worm chorus hook lines, using the sounds of Bring Me The Horizon and In Flames as a common denominator. However, this is only a taste of Brainwashed, where many of the fifteen tracks are cut out of the same wood – songs like “Four Walls” or the album closer “Modern Minds” scream the band’s hallowed message unto the world. In between, the album gleams with fervid wrecker balls like “Torment” that brim over with an unbelievable catchiness and vehement dual guitar leads.
Brainwashed is an album that will float While She Sleeps to higher crests. The album melds everything the members have been through over the last few years and has created a silver lining to of all their collective experiences. Brainwashed is no sugarplum, but the record offers the tremendous melodies that genre lovers crave, while at the same time leaving a sterile, washed out area full of beauty and elegancy. With Brainwashed, While She Sleeps leaves no doubt that they are sure to become one of the genre’s next heavyweights. CrypticRock gives Brainwashed 4.5 out of 5 points.