While She Sleeps

Brainwashed

Written by: MAK on 07/11/2015 12:04:57

Sheffield metalcore outfit While She Sleeps have followed the trend that many of their peers have set in terms of progression. It seems common for metalcore bands to start out incredibly intricate musically early on in their career and as each band grows in popularity they simplify their sound to appeal to wider audiences. We saw this shift in While She Sleeps when they progressed from their EP “The North Stands For Nothing” to their first full-length album “This Is The Six” and once again we see it slightly with new album “Brainwashed”. Not to say that While She Sleeps have gone bland on us, “The North Stands For Nothing” was full of intricate guitaring and a few awkward time signatures, while “Brainwashed” on the other hand focuses more on the uncomplicated rhythms that are easier on the ears. 'Sleeps have switched their stance from technical magicians into masters of anthem-metal, even more so than on “This Is The Six”.

Just Like its predecessor, “Brainwashed” starts out in a rather explosive manner. Vocalist Lawrence Taylor starts “New World Torture” with a raspy shout of “WE ARE THE UNDERGROUND”, joined swiftly after by many voices singing “THEY KNOW NOTHING OF OUR SOUND”. The gang vocals repeat both lines and Taylor’s shouts return to the forefront of a politically themed song to show their dispute against “The Man”, bluntly claiming “This one’s for the pigs at the top". This wouldn’t be the first time Sleeps have been straightforward about their thoughts on society considering the “Fuck the Law” line from “Be(lie)ve” on the previous album.

Bearing in mind the throat surgery "Loz" Taylor has had between the releases of “This Is The Six” and “Brainwashed”, it is incredibly impressive that the frontman hasn’t had to sacrifice his own distinctive sound by scrapping harsh vocals completely. Taylor hasn’t lost any vocal power, his shouts sound as great as they were before, but the more than usual use of gang vocals may indicate that the rest of the band are sharing the responsibility to help their frontman. It is a great tactic in getting fans used to songs quicker, as the shout outs are the first part most fans would pick up on, so they can sing them live.

Just like before, the guitars shift several times throughout the album from crushing heavy metal riffs to the rawer sounding hardcore grooves, the melodies are more atmospheric, in a sense that the songs are purposely designed to feel bigger. The fiddly little melodies remain, but nowhere near as much as on previous releases. The shredding solos in “Our Legacy” are as impressive as the melodic solo from an older hit like“Hearts Aside Our Horses”. One significant feature from previous releases, the use of piano work, has been toned down a great deal on this new release.

There isn’t much difference between the deluxe and standard versions of the album, one would be that the deluxe version has two added soft music interludes. The first being “We Are Alive At Night” which is sandwiched between heavy hitting tracks “Brainwashed” and “Our Legacy”, leading into the latter quite nicely. The other track, “The Woods”, is also used as a break between heavier songs “No Sides, No Enemies” and “Method In Madness”, and both of these interludes are rather soothing, but considering the softer intro to “Four Walls” it would appear the band didn’t want to clutter the album with softer segments on the standard release. The other bonus track would be the heavy metalcore bruiser “Your Evolution”, which acts as a filler piece between “New World Torture” and “Brainwashed”. Unusual placing for a bonus track, but I’m more surprised it didn’t make it onto the original track listing, considering it is one of the better songs from the album.

The main downfall that “Brainwashed” has, is that it doesn’t impress as well as “This Is The Six” did on its initial listen. The previous album was such a vast improvement from the EP in production alone that you couldn’t help but be amazed and even slightly overwhelmed at how good it sounded, and this time around I didn’t feel that buzz instantly. Over several listens I grew to enjoy the album more, though. This is an album that has songs catered to work with the crowd a lot more, and to have fans rocking out and singing back more than just be amazed by technical prowess. While She Sleeps have always created music full of energy and intensity, only this time the monstrous atmosphere has grown to a much larger scale.

8

Download: New World Torture, Our Legacy, Four Walls
For The Fans Of: Counting Days, Architects, Bury Tomorrow, The Ghost Inside, Parkway Drive
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 21.04.2015
Search and Destroy Records/Razor & Tie

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