February 25, 2019 While She Sleeps – So What? (Album Review)
So, what’s the big deal about While She Sleeps? Continuing to defy expectations, the eclectic, proudly self-made British quintet are prepared to shake up 2019 with their fourth full-length, So What?, which arrives on Friday, March 1, 2019, thanks to their own label, Sleeps Brothers, in collaboration with Spinefarm Records.
In the world of heavy music, While She Sleeps hold an exemplary reputation for delivering the goods. Formed in 2006 near Sheffield, England, the band would go on to release their debut EP, The North Stands for Nothing, in 2010, before making their full-length debut in 2012 with This Is the Six. Next, 2015’s Brainwashed and 2017’s You Are We followed, and only served to strengthen the band’s good name. Winners of the Best British Newcomer at the 2012 Kerrang! Awards, they also recently took home the award for Best Album at the 2018 Heavy Music Awards. Dedicated to the road, the quintet has shared stages across the globe with everyone from Bring Me the Horizon to Parkway Drive, Architects to Motionless in White, as well as adding their name to countless international festival lineups.
So what? For 2019, While She Sleeps — Vocalist Lawrence Taylor, Guitarists Sean Long and Mat Welsh, Bassist Aaran McKenzie, and Drummer Adam Savage — have authored an 11-song collection that boasts infectious melodies, catchy riffs, and some stellar musicianship. Recorded with producer Carl Bown (Holding Absence, GUNSHIP) at the band’s self-built studio, Sleeps Audio, the collection sees the quintet’s sound as something of a rambunctious mating between Thrice and That’s The Spirit-era Bring Me the Horizon, an amalgamated Post-Hardcore with tons of frills.
So What? kicks off in style with the punctuated guitars and Punk Rock attitude that sits at the core of the aptly-titled “ANTI-SOCIAL.” An infectious sing-along with a note of Thrice embedded in its melodies, here the quintet proclaim the fully relatable: “I’m not anti-social, I’m anti-bullshit!” These catchy qualities continue into the explosion of “I’VE SEEN IT ALL,” where pulsating synths create a ripe atmosphere for Taylor’s emotional screams and some seriously mesmerizing guitars.
Be the change you want to see in the world, they say. On the aptly-titled “INSPIRE,” While She Sleeps run with this concept and seek to break down walls and motivate change with some truly catchy melodies. On titular track “SO WHAT?,” they explode into quirky riffs and hard-hitting drums that lead into catchy choruses that, if you find yourself so inclined, you can easily shake your hips to.
Are you a member of “THE GUILTY PARTY?” For the stand-out, infectious track, the quintet explore the defeatist attitude prevalent in our society and, ultimately, offer up two words of advice: “Shut up!” Next, they build on this disease of humanity to meander through the warning of “HAUNT ME,” where the world is in disarray after its inhabitants have viciously ignored all the obvious signs. (Sound familiar?)
“ELEPHANT” goes haywire, blasting into ferocious verses that lead to choruses tainted with a deliciously contrasting ethereality. For “SET YOU FREE,” they mix gentler moments with Taylor’s frustrated howls, while “GOOD GRIEF” cashes in on the epic guitar work of Long and Welsh. Lest you be lulled by the melodies, however, they pump it back up for “BACK OF MY MIND,” before ending with the thundering frenzy of “GATES OF PARADISE.”
Steeped in the troubles that face our world today, So What? asks the uncomfortable questions and points fingers at the ills of our modern world – from defeatism to our inability to observe the signs of deterioration around us. Seeking change and looking to inspire, While She Sleeps rock through a collection of tracks that run the gamut, blending Metal grit with Punk Rock attitude, Hardcore ferocity, undeniably catchy riffs, and a zillion other, myriad influences. The end result is a band who will have you singing along to their intelligent and timely lyrics, while banging your head and tossing up the Metal horns. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give While She Sleeps’ So What? 4 of 5 stars.