It would be fair to say that the past 18 months have been troublesome for While She Sleeps HQ. No sooner were they heralded in certain corners as the greatest thing in British metal since Rob Halford’s leather trousers than they had to call the whole thing off due to frontman Loz Taylor needing serious throat surgery.
Their future hung in the balance, with rumours of their demise whizzing around the internet like flies on the brown stuff, but all negativity was quashed thanks to their blistering Download set that left all flags firmly flying./o:p
And now, three years after that spectacular debut This Is The Six, the Sheffield metalcore merchants have returned with a point to prove. Can you still be relevant three years after your big break? The answer is a big, fat ‘Fuck yes’./o:p
Opening on the menacing call to arms New World Torture, the distinctive sound Sleeps crafted is still hitting hard, with Matt Welsh now lending a more obvious hand on vocal duties with his northern snarl. Lyrically the evolution is prevalent with battle cries aimed at fucking the system and fighting those who control us: ’Are you spoon fed? Coughing up the ignorance? Are you brain dead?’ Loz screams – and this is just track two.
But this statement of intent is just the tip of the hardcore-tinged iceberg. Metalcore might be considered a dirty word to some and a synonym for ‘whiny bollocks’ to others, but Sleeps have harnessed the power of both heavy metal and hardcore in their sound that can resonate deeply with both two-steppers and headbangers.
The punked-up, circlepit-starter of the title track and the pissed off, punchy nature of Trophies Of Violence are juxtaposed by the heavy riffs and solos from Our Legacy, and to an extent that’s what Sleeps have created for themselves: a legacy. Step into any metalcore gig across the country and you’ll see at least five WSS t-shirts. Guaranteed.
The empowering, rallying atmosphere throughout Brainwashed isn’t just something the pitters can indulge in when not chugging an overpriced pint or punching their mate in the face: it’s a legitimate feeling of a band on the brink of imploding but refusing to give up the good fight. Everything could have ended so easily and unceremoniously just over a year ago, but the five lads from Yorkshire stuck together to make it work and put every ounce of sweat, piss, blood, tears and any other fluid you care to mention into their sophomore and, potentially, career-defining release.
It might not have the instant impact of their debut album, but all the elements of the While She Sleeps formula are there and finely tuned – and once the intense chemical reaction starts, it won’t burn itself out. From the now-traditional piano segment (as found on Kangaezu Ni) to the wailing, chanting No Sides, No Enemies, the metalcore envelope has been pushed forward yet again by a band that spawned countless copycats and soundalikes.
As D12 famously and succinctly put it, ‘This is fight music’, and we’re now deep in the second round of what could be While She Sleeps’ eventual title win to be crowned the heavyweight champions of British metal./o:p
FINAL VERDICT: 8⁄10
Loz Taylor [VOCALS]
HOW ARE YOU FEELING AFTER SURGERY NUMBER TWO?
“I’m feeling good! We’ve got the tour with Cancer Bats coming up, I’m feeling strong, the album’s out there now and we’re finally at a point where we can start touring properly again and actually, like, be a band.”
THE TIME YOU GUYS HAVE SPENT AWAY HAS EVIDENTLY MADE BRAINWASHED A VERY LAYERED RECORD.
“I think this is one that needs a few listens for it all to sink in. It’s not one of those that you’ll get straight away, but on the fourth time, you’ll be like, ‘Ahhhhh!’ I like that! I like albums that you have to give a few listens to and that have a few different bits and bobs going on. I definitely think that’s a good thing.”
YOU’VE MANAGED TO GET YOUR MOMENTUM BACK, TOO
“It’s easy to lose momentum. People’s attention is so short and there are so many bands out there that you can go away for a bit, come back and find out that there’s a whole new thing going on, so it means a lot to us that people still care and that people have been digging what we’ve put out so far.”
YOU MUST BE PUMPED ABOUT THIS CANCER BATS TOUR…
“There are a lot of similarities between our bands in that we’re both very DIY in the way we work. This tour’s gonna be special because we’re not having one band headline – we’re just gonna flip a coin for each night! Ha ha! We’ve had such a long time out now that it’s gonna feel really good to go back on the road with a band like Cancer Bats. They’re good dudes.”/o:p
Four of Yorkshire’s premier exports…
Rolo Tomassi: COSMOLOGY – 2010
The DIY mathcore mob have been tearing venues to shreds since the mid-00s, and their sophomore release was their shining moment, with Eva Spence’s roar reaching another level on the standout Party Wounds.
Bring Me The Horizon: SEMPITERNAL – 2013
Arguably the most important band in British metal today, it was this album that lifted BMTH into the mainstream with its swelling, atmospheric choruses and electronics.
Hawk Eyes: IDEAS – 2012
These purveyors of fuzzy avant-garde rock created something unique, intelligent and oddly doomy with the odd Sabbath line thrown in and monstrous hooks in Skyspinners and Hollywood Sweatshop.
Marmozets: VEXED EP – 2012
One of the brightest sparks in British music, straddling the line between post-hardcore and alt-rock, Marmozets’ previous incarnation was a much more aggressive affair akin to The Dillinger Escape Plan. Pop this is not./o:p