While She Sleeps
You Are We
While She Sleeps had already found their own sound on first release E.P ‘The North Stands For Nothing’, but here it is refined even further. It is tempting to make initial comparisons with some of their contemporaries, fellow Sheffielders Bring Me the Horizon springing most readily to mind (more on this later), but in reality these guys are out there on their own. Self funded with the help of fan donations via PledgeMusic after the band split with their previous major record label Sony Music, While She Sleeps’ latest effort You Are We sees the band seizing creative control like never before.
So what are the results? The album writhes with a young fury and musical passion; the title track and opener (a reference to the fans that helped support the band being considered as part of the band itself) begins with some acoustic chords and a slow building grace before beginning the albums assault proper. Loz Taylors distinctive roar and Sean Long’s melodic lead guitar work dominate the throng and provide a core that the rest of the band revolves around. It is a ready made mosh pit thriller, twisting and turning in pace, which only serves to make it even heavier. When the chorus hits with the titular refrain barked by Taylor, we are truly away, and in the live environment audiences will go nuts for it.
‘Empire of Silence’ continues the punk rock aesthetic with some political themes thrown in: the lyrics “We’re building walls where there should have been bridges” during the chorus perhaps a shot at a certain world leader. The track also makes great use of space and dynamics, a rare slower pace for WSS means the song almost takes a breather from the rest of the albums breakneck fury. ‘Silence Speaks’ is probably the best use of the bands three interweaving vocals, Taylors screams overlapping with support from co-vocalists Long and Matt Welsh’s cleaner styles gives the track in particular a post hardcore feel that in moments sounds like Alexisonfire. A guest vocal from the aforementioned Sheffielders’ Oli Sykes (Architects’ Sam Carter turned them down) who lends his unmistakable raspy scream is both a calculated commercial move and a flare of collaborative brilliance.
‘Hurricane’s’ incredible opener may be one of the best riffs so far this year, a track that is as high in inexhaustible energy as it is possessed of an anthemic chorus. Rounding the record off, penultimate track ‘Civil Isolation’ builds and shifts from heavy-as-hell breakdowns before almost dropping out entirely in a slow, creeping bridge. Its pummelling drums then feed back into a raging maelstrom which finally envelops the listener with yet another incredibly catchy riff. Following this, closure ‘In Another Now’s’ atmospheric guitar line snakes and weaves its way along as if its searching for something. It is perhaps WSS at their most proggy, which comes as a welcome surprise addition to their repertoire. The powerful and emotional track shimmers beautifully along before morphing into a brilliantly heavy death metal rhythm that – like a sonic mic drop – sees the lead guitar chords playfully wander off once more into the distance with the albums title barked by Taylor one final time.
Shout outs must be given to Longs masterful playing as well as drummer Adam Savages who’s beats powers the album along effortlessly but also essentially. At times the repetition of Taylor’s screams kicking off each song can grate, and his range makes you wander if it is a tad too limited, especially when compared to the other vocalists. However this does little to detract from what is WSS best effort yet, placing them with their peers at the forefront of British metal.
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