Review | There is something about Sheffield that is so special. Being one of the origins of Industrial Revolution and former center of the steel industry, the city kinda has this grey and working class-spirit. It’s like you can still hear the sound of the factories echoing through history. But also other sounds of the city will do that, especially metalcore bearers of hope While She Sleeps with their latest album Brainwashed. Raging over England like a steel roll, the band is on top of the game again, overcoming their 2012’ debut This Is The Six.
After hearing about frontman Loz Taylor’s voice problems and throat surgeries, I was very upset. Many other bands had to experience this barrier. In some cases like Adrian Fitipaldes in Northlane, it leads to the departure of the singer and a massive conversion of the band. Yes, I painted exactly the same. But fortunately I was convinced of the contrary. Loz recorded the album with a polyp still in his throat and in some parts it really sounds like he’s gargling razor blades. But in respect of the music they’re making, this really gives the music a rougher and more brutal kind of sound. While listening to these new tunes, I often thought about Slipknot’s Corey Taylor as a reference.
Lyrically, the album is very socio-critical. Loz Taylor stated that it’s to do with how heavily things are marketed and forced on us through TV and advertising. Companies tell us what we want, what we need and how we should do things. That was very much the common theme for writing the lyrics and you can see it shine through every song on the album.
After louder emerging and overlapping hubbub in The Divide, the album’s fire is started with banger New World Torture, an accusatory dedication to politicians and big businessmen who contribute to the decline of the system and society. Brutal lyrics make me feel angry about people doing nothing, accepting society’s regulations without hesitation. Underlined by Taylor’s rough voice, the song got me right from the first minute. The next song Your Evolution fits in seamlessly, pointing out the same thought and the fact that you can’t really do much although you have certain rights (‘’for freedom of speech, there’s not much to be said’’).
Being followed by Brainwashed, a song that couldn’t be more metalcore, the album’s theme is already present as hell. It is a call to turn off media more often, to prevent manipulation and the danger of getting mental jaded. Initiated through beautiful short guitar piece We Are Alive At Night, one of the best songs on the album, Our Legacy, kicks in. The catchy and hymnic chorus broke into my skull and never got out again. Ended by an awesome guitar solo by the band’s mastermind Sean Long, the song really has this kind of message I love to receive from bands.
The album continues with riff- monster Four Walls, which in my opinion makes ironical use of Edward Boatner’s spiritual song When The Saints Go Marching In and the song’s originally positive spirit. There is this claustrophobic vibe on the one hand, but also a positive feature on the other hand (’’Four walls in this prison, but I can still see the river’’). All over the album, one will find many lines from their 2012 debut This Is The Six. And the same is for following song Torment, which is connected with 2012’s Until the Death through the line I’ll put my trust in poison. Fitting perfectly into both songs, it supports the cry for help through smoke signals. Blood has a very strong value in this song, bringing out the colour of the artwork and the album itself.
Kangaezu Ni, a terrific piano piece, enables a short break from the constant power of the songs. The song, whose title is the Japanese word for without thought, kinda reminds you to get your mind off all surroundings once in a while – even if it’s just for a moment like at this point of the album. The silence doesn’t last long as it’s exploding into Life In Tension. In contrast to the beginning of the album, this song really is a motivating song. It’s like the Band shouting ‘’Do what you want to do, no matter what anyone says’’ or ‘’Do not listen to others, even if you are in danger as a result’’. And yes, the music really was my therapy at the time I listened to the album for the first time!
The same is true of the next song Trophies Of Violence, which will be a delight to talk about, since it’s my personal favorite on the album. I can’t decide whether it is the riff at the beginning or the Slipknot-ish style of the song in general that makes it so special. Honestly, it always gives me goosebumps everytime I hear it. For me, it completely screams out the fact that we’re suffering in the world we built ourselves. And look – another reference to This Is The Six. This time there are lines from Dead Behind The Eyes (banger!) spread all over the song (’’We’re dead behind the eyes’’/’’You think we’re nothing like these creatures’’). While reading the lyrics, it gets absolutely clear how good both songs match.
Slowly getting to the end of the album, the band hammers No Sides, No Enemies as another hymn into the album. Characterized by awesome guitar work, catchy lyrics and a choir that pulls you up from your seat, the song sums up what we love about While She Sleeps. Afterwards, a reprieve is given through another instrumental song called The Woods. Musically depicting the forest (which constitutes the contrast to the city/ our society) as it can be seen in the booklet, the song has this cowboy-like vibe to it. For me, the way in which the guitars play together even has a Metallica-like vibe to it, like in …And Justice for All’s One.
Again, the quiet doesn’t last long as the album steps on the gas again one more time with Method In Madness. I will let the song stand for its own, since the riffs in this song kinda left me speechless. Now we unfortunately have arrived at the last song of the album, Modern Minds. Those who know their debut album will instantly think about Reunite from This Is The Six, since both songs finish their corresponding album with a hymnic choir. And I’m requesting the same: Don’t give up on yourself, brainwashed like everyone else.
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