What can be said about While She Sleeps that hasn’t already been claimed elsewhere? From a strictly musical standpoint, it would be a mountainous task to find anyone with a taste for metal set against them. Previous albums This Is The Six and Brainwashed all but cemented them as a name to be reckoned with in British metal and more than that – one of the best bands the genre can currently boast.
There’s so much that as a band, the quintet get right. From their relentless live show to their unquestionably deep connection to their fans; While She Sleeps have an aura of likeability about them which is un-matched. It’s quite the accomplishment then to suggest that new, independently released record You Are We is by far the bands most adorning characteristic, and the quintet's most mesmerising accomplishment to date.
Growth is not something that seemed necessary for the Sheffield metallers judging from past offerings, in fact – a Brainwashed 2.0 would have gone down fine here, yet growth is what has been achieved. The importance of Mat Welsh’s vocal performance on the record is something that wasn’t expected, and cannot be understated. Most notably ‘Empire Of Silence’ and ‘Hurricane’ are given breaths of extra dynamism by the inclusion of Welsh – creating an even thicker, revelling Sleeps sound.
While easily their most melodic offering to date, You Are We also manages to remain overtly vicious, and lead vocalist Loz Taylor puts in an unsurprisingly impeccable performance, doing his best to start a riot at every opportunity. ‘Revolt’ and ‘Feel’ bring with them the crunching pace that While She Sleeps have made their own while ‘Silence Speaks’ takes a more poise and direct approach, with a hooking chorus that can’t be ignored and an inclusion of Bring Me The Horizon frontman Oli Sykes to add even more power to an album that explodes at every instance.
Perhaps the one-two of title track ‘You Are We’ and ‘Steal The Sun’ best describes the tale of what this record achieves; vocally scathing yet melodic, textually brutal yet technical. The mixture of breakdowns, beautiful clean riffs, melody and ferocity is a combination that gives off a high chance of the end result being an over produced, mixed bag of having too many cooks in the kitchen, and yet – While She Sleeps have taken these elements and subsequently utilised them to perfection, creating a record that can appeal to metal fans at any end of the spectrum.
Somehow While She Sleeps have taken the blueprint of their already well respected, exceptional band and managed to improve upon it. The story of this record is fascinating, but what will truly make the album stand the test of time is the unquestionable quality that sits within it. Make no mistake, You Are We is a musical phenomenon, and will quite possibly be etched in history as While She Sleeps defining moment.
Review by Kristian Pugh