While She Sleeps

This Is The Six

Written by: AP on 27/08/2012 20:35:20

The story of While She Sleeps aligns itself nicely with that of most contemporary metal bands coming out of the United Kingdom: a penniless struggle devoid of any real prospects - until spotted by a key individual with the necessary influence to catapult them into popular awareness. Indeed, following the release of their mini album "The North Stands for Nothing" in 2010, While She Sleeps found themselves part of a dwindling scene in the former steel town of Sheffield without much hope for survival. Then their fortune turned when the band was asked to appear as the opening act on this year's Kerrang! Tour alongside New Found Glory, The Blackout and letlive., allowing While She Sleeps to test their craft against much larger crowds than they were previously used to. Not surprisingly this debut full-length comes with a huge sense of ambition.

In case you never noticed "The North Stands for Nothing", allow me first and foremost to describe the stylistic territory in which While She Sleeps resides. Imagine the frantic, technically gifted metalcore of Architects circa "Hollow Crown" mingling with the huge, anthemic choruses of Comeback Kid and The Ghost Inside, and complete the image with a coarse and powerful vocal performance not unlike John Henry of Darkest Hour and socially aware lyrics with distinct punk undertones. There is an undercurrent of cautious optimism that bleeds from Lawrence Taylor's words into the music that blows it into enormous proportions, manifesting itself most prominently in collectively chanted refrains like "We are nothing like these creatures / Guilty, scared, I can't forget / You starve pride to feed your selfishness" in "Dead Behind the Eyes" (which coincidentally features a cameo from Comeback Kid vocalist Andrew Neufeld), and "Our guided, our given / Fed to the sun for all you're worth without reason / The force-feeding, false freedom" in "False Freedom". Mind you, there is no clean singing involved as such, as Taylor prefers to use the harsh, yet easily understood technique that makes Darkest Hour such a memorable experience.

This is one of the primary qualities of "This is the Six": its capacity to sound anthemic whilst surrendering none of its force. The cleaner vocal stylings of the lines "No religion means no wishing on nothing / Never a broken promise / No hope for the hopeful" and "Hold me down, keep me bottled up / We're strong enough" in "Satisfied in Suffering" simply make what is already an empowering assault into a massive tune, and the same is true of the following "Seven Hills" with its melancholic chanting of "I know, there's people in the place I've been / Who I know, I'll never find again". That's four songs into the album, and four songs that might as well be the lead single, not to mention instant banging hits if metal was played on mainstream radio. The good news is that While She Sleeps have stuffed the entire album full of such songs, and they also impress in other important aspects such as dynamics and richness of the soundscape - and for those people that did check out the previous outing, While She Sleeps have included clever references to its title track in both "Our Courage, Our Cancer" and "Reunite" as a neat tribute to those of us that stuck with the band through the difficult period.

But what separates While She Sleeps, and this album, from the vast majority of their contemporary peers is not the strength of the standout tracks - of which there are many, mind you - but the consistency and completeness of the album as a whole. What has been achieved here is a sense that each song adheres to a greater context. The songs exhibit sufficient variance to maintain the listener's undivided attention, but at the same time, there is a unifying atmosphere that looms over each riff, drum beat and scream - that sense that though the world might be in a dire state, all is not lost. That feeling makes "This is the Six" a refreshing and uplifting experience and affords While She Sleeps a characteristic of rarity next to most other bands. That, and the sheer prowess of the band at writing technically impressive, memorable metal songs that never sacrifice the integrity of the genre.

In many ways While She Sleeps manage to do what their countrymen Architects have been struggling with since the pivotal "Hollow Crown": pressing the frenzy and ferocity that brought them into popular attention into songs that arena sized crowds can scream back at them - something that they've already proven at numerous high profile festivals in the United Kingdom. Just listen to that title track, or "Be(lie)ve" for that matter - if those won't throw the band's career into a voluptuous upward spiral, I don't know what will.

Download: Dead Behind the Eyes; Seven Hills; Our Courage, Our Cancer; This is the Six; Until the Death
For the fans of: Architects, Comeback Kid, Demoraliser, The Ghost Inside
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.08.2012
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