While She Sleeps share what they feel is wrong with the world on ‘Anti-Social’, but it all feels & sounds hollow.
While She Sleeps have been one of the more consistent names in the U.K. heavy music scene for much of this decade, mainly down to the sheer strengths of ‘The North Stands For Nothing‘ and ‘This Is The Six‘. The group’s last record, the highly mediocre ‘You Are We‘, saw While She Sleeps jumping further onto the political metalcore bandwagon; in the process saying a whole lot of something, just without saying anything meaningful or new. These guys have always dealt with political topics in their music, but on that particular record, it all felt rather shallow and generalized. Turns out, there’s a lot of that here with their new single, ‘Anti-Social‘.
From the band sharing that they’re fed up with political corruption and social division (aren’t we all), how they’re “anti-bullshit“, and declaring “thank fuck for headphones” about the escapism music offers. (Something we can at least all agree on). Yet lyrics such as, “I’m sick of the sound, I’m sick of the hand we’ve been dealt/sick of the drugs they’ve told me to take, I’m sick of the drugs we take to rebel/we’re sick of corruption and wealth sick of corruption itself/sick of division of colour and religion, when we’re all the same” is substanceless. It’s in-vogue commentary that doesn’t progress any kind of conversation other than merely hating on the system, man.
It’s more or less the heavy music equivalent of the “we live in a society” meme. For the kind of political world we live in, where truth is stranger than fiction and with so much happening across media on a daily basis, these are threadbare lyrics. I myself love well-done politicized lyricism, as it often shows an artist offering greater awareness and speaking with some kind of real conviction. But this new WSS song is just littered with hollow words that offer nothing more than: “shit’s bad, can’t you all see that?“. Yes, we can.
Musically, ‘Anti-Social‘ fairs much better. That being said, other than WSS sweaters, I feel the sole people who’ll love this are listeners who only partake in metalcore, hardcore and nu-metal. The song itself is all over the place, but not necessarily in a bad way. From the bouncy nu-metal vibes, the hardcore/metalcore moments, to the more chaotic punk influenced sections (like the track’s ending); it’s got an interesting form. There are some other decent elements at play in the performances too. Like Sean Long’s killer riff work that starts the song out; how Matt Welsh’s backing vocals are inter-locking with those of frontman Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor really nicely; the latter of who sounds fresh from past vocal blow-outs and surgeries and who even semi-raps during the song’s bridge.
And yet, something’s still missing. ‘Anti-Social‘ feels bland and safe; like WSS are trying to get their own slice from the nu-metalcore pie after it’s been gobbled up by other bands over the last few years. I’m glad Sleeps are trying new things but this isn’t fully paying off; instead sounding like a generic metal track with little to no impact other than that ballsy outro.
Their new album ‘So What?‘ lands March 1st, 2019 via the band’s own label, Sleeps Brothers, in collaboration with Spinefarm Records. If ‘Anti-Social‘ is any indication of the larger LP that’s on its way next year, then this might actually be the last While She Sleeps album I bother with. For their music has so often left such a visceral effect upon my mind, but that just hasn’t happened here. And if that turns out to be the case for ‘So What?‘, well, at least ‘This Is The Six‘ hasn’t gone anywhere.