When people talk about While She Sleeps being a special band, they’re often referring to them solely from a musical basis. Their mature metalcore roots took them from underground sensation to heavy metal behemoths in a matter of years, and they really amped up the pressure on previous album Brainwashed. With their new album You Are We though, While She Sleeps have managed to establish themselves as the voice of an entire army. The proof is in the pudding, as they got 258% above their target on their Pledge Music campaign, and that immense success is reflected in the incredibly confident new direction the band have gone in with the album.
The immediate and remarkable thing is how soon and effortlessly it integrates its new sounds into their already trademark bruising. The opening title track features soaring lead guitars, that signals a far more melodic side to While She Sleeps. Lets not joke about though, there is still plenty of bite left in them, as thunderous breakdowns and chaotic riffing still ensue, but there is even reform in these areas too. Gone are the chugging patterns and instead is a heavier focus on groove and rhythm. The drums are refined and play a plenty strong hand in the strength behind You Are We, with consistently strong and unbreakably strong beats being supplied.
Songs like Empire Of Silence and Wide Awake show a triumphant attempt at truly focussing on having the chorus be the anchors within their songs. Whilst on previous albums they have always been present, on You Are We the structure of the songs has seen refinement as well, with the songs feeling far more thought out. The ear worm capabilities of a lot of these songs is testament to how well written everything is, and the careful balance of heavy brutality and melody is exact and walks the thin line fantastically well.
It is on tracks like Revolt and Civil Isolation that the seething metal band that lies within the heart of the Sleeps sound rears its head without mercy. Revolt swings on a lumbering groove whilst Loz screams ‘It’ll take 13 nails to hang me from this cross’, creating one the many fist-clenching moments that make you want to just throw caution to the wind and proceed to mosh wherever you are. Civil Isolation, being the first single off You Are We, cuts the finest line between both the amped up aggression and the soaring choruses that take You Are We to the next level. Civil Isolation also holds some of the most socially aware lyrics of the album, spear heading the anti-establishment vibe that You Are We already drips in due to it being a self-released album and an unapologetic middle finger to the music industry.
You Are We is 11 songs of the best quality music While She Sleeps have released under their illustrious banner, and it’s just that simple. Whilst their two previous efforts were of course superb, neither This Is The Six or Brainwashed feel as complete as You Are We. Every song fits the track listing and aids the natural flow of the songs, making the whole album a joy to listen to, as every song offers up standout moments along with newer dynamics for older fans to enjoy and to draw newer listeners to the Sleeps army. Of course the shift and heavy focus on melody might piss some people off, but ultimately, this is one of the best releases of the year by a comfortable margin. Taking on the responsibility themselves has proven that if you want something done right then you best do it yourself, and that’s precisely what While She Sleeps have done, writing an album with the capability to cause arena sized sing-alongs without sacrificing any of their already established sound. If you spent money to help fund this project then the band will have done you immensely proud by making a record that uncompromisingly places While She Sleeps at the top of the scene.