While She Sleeps – Brainwashed


Album

Brainwashed

Label

Search And Destroy

Year

2015

For Fans Of

Heights, Architects, Dead Swans.

Summary

WSS raise a middle finger high.

Rating

70 / 100

Okay, seriously – what’s going on with bands in 2015 being so damn consistent? While we could argue about the objectivity and subjectivity of reviewing such a broad subject as music until our lungs give out and our go-to typing fingers suffer from severe cramps, it’s hard to argue that the level of quality among local and international releases lately has been rather top fucking notch. Helping to continue this strong track record of heavy music in 2015 are the lads in While She Sleeps with their long-awaited third album, ‘Brainwashed’.

Now with a name like that, it should come as no surprise that political themes and strong social awareness are the meat, potatoes and the whole damn plate and table for this record. The rising cacophonous nature of the distant, undecipherable voices emulating the busy shopping complexes and bustling streets of our modern world in ‘The Divide’ reflect this theme of vapid lifestyles perfectly. From then onwards the band kick the pace up and tell you exactly what they think about the current flow of our society with the rip-roaring ‘New World Torture’, a song that loudly and defiantly announces their return with a swift sonic punch to the jaw. If you love While She Sleeps, then you’ll love this song and this album.

However, on the lyrics and themes of the record – it’s all quite generalised, really. However, it works similar to that of Parkway Drive’sDeep Blue’: make it relatable and crystal clear to the listener what you’re critiquing and couple it with a tight, well-written hardcore/metalcore sound. It’s not going to be as specific, as say an Anti-Flag piece, but it works nonetheless. Maybe it’s easier to think of as this as a full album centred around on what ‘Dead Behind The Eyes’ had to say. (Fuck me man, what a tune.)

Once ‘New World Torture’ has flown through your ears on the Carpet Bomb Your Senses With Intense Music Express, the next 40 or so minutes sees the band maintaining that momentum with the thick grooves of the head-bobbing ‘Your Evolution’. Following on from that, ‘Our Legacy’ is the kind of lung-shredding, throat-opening, sing-along inducing anthem that these boys love to dish out at least twice on each release. The slick guitar solo at the end is just electrifyingly superb and is arguably the high point of the song. This track, in particular, seems to take some rather lengthy notes from older songs like ‘This Is The Six’ and ‘Hearts Aside Our Horses’, but that’s no bad thing.

In contrast, a song like ‘Four Walls’ seems to be the more solemn and darker of the two with it’s slower intro, deep chants, and cleaner guitar chords. It’s like the kid who sits in the corner and writes about macabre poetry as opposed to ‘Our Legacy’, which is the loud and energetic Manchester United fan that never knows when to shut the fuck up. Or at least, it is for the first minute or so until the band comes in full bore with heavy chugs, driving rhythms and raspy screams.

This is a band who aren’t really worried about being overly technical, or about being a musicians band or about delving into the depths of cathartic unstructured hardcore. They’re more about epic choruses and well-thought out songs, as songs like ‘Life In Tension’ and ‘Torment‘ prove. Furthermore, Sleeps has always had strong hardcore undertones and a somewhat typical metalcore style that a lot of their peers employ to great effect. But ‘Brainwashed’ sees the band step into the realm of metal more so than ever before, and later tracks like the brilliant ‘Trophies of Violence‘ like to run with this enthusiastically. This heavier style and sound is more than welcomed (those guitar solos should be permanent editions from now on) as it makes the band come across far more focused and way more rejuvenated. Just think Architects without the actual singing.

Now for those clued in, the band were riding a massive wave of momentum after the release of ‘This Is The Six’, but that all came to a screeching halt in 2013. What happened? Well, as it turns outs, screaming into a microphone can be bad for your throat and voice box. Huh, who’d have thunk it? Thankfully, vocalist LawrenceLozTaylor fully recovered and picked up the mic once again and honestly, you wouldn’t be able to notice that he ever had a problem with his vocals. The man sounds just as angry and as commanding as he ever did, which is the best news the band and any fan could ask for after the crippling uncertainty of the past year. All of which falls away when your ears grace this bit of chaos that just manages to fall into the shadow of its masterful predecessor.

Conclusion

While She Sleeps came out swinging with ‘The North Stands For Nothing’, and then followed it up with the fucking brilliant ‘This Is The Six’. Now with that “difficult” third album, they haven’t raised the bar. Instead, they have just reminded us that they set it so damn high in the first place that returning shots at glory just won’t reach as high. Does ‘Brainwashed’ live up to its predecessor? No. Yes, it looks, sounds, and feels like While She Sleeps, shit, it is While She Sleeps. But after tasting near-perfection before, some may find it hard to swallow down a dish that just doesn’t quite hit the spot as that one glorious meal you had in mid-August of 2012.

Tracklisting

1. The Divide
2. New World Torture
3. Brainwashed
4. Our Legacy
5. Four Walls
6. Torment
7. Kangaeuzu Ni
8. Life In Television
9. Trophies Of Violence
10. No Side, No Enemies
11. Method In Madness
12. Modern Minds

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