With their third record You Are We, While She Sleeps took the leap from metalcore cult heroes, to mainstream rock heavyweights. Released on their own label, recorded in their own studio - it was an anomaly, an album which had a 50/50 split between extravagant quality, and fascinating back story. Fast forward just under two years later and the steel city maniacs are back with So What?, their fourth effort in a frankly astonishing back catalogue.
It's absurd to think that less than two years after their best, and most important record to date that While She Sleeps would be able to recreate the same magic that existed within the iron walls of You Are We. And yet, So What? finds a way to spread Sleeps' wings arguably even further than its predecessor. More than just another piece of art to add to a growing collection, So What? is the album that cements While She Sleeps as one of the great bands of the last decade.
'I've Seen It All' tells the exact tale of how this band have grown. Dizzying, intricate riffs fused together with a cerebral cortex of anthemic, sing along choruses. This is not the all out musical haywire that debut and sophomore albums This Is The Six and Brainwashed bought with them, in fact this is something much more - it's metal crafted with a high IQ. 'Inspire' follows suit too, with an inclusion of electronica that sits perfectly balanced in While She Sleeps' mammoth sound.
Admittedly there's no track on 'So What?' that can quite compete with preexisting Sleeps anthems like 'Hurricane' or 'Silence Speaks'. However, this record has an extraordinary level of quality that permeates through its spine, it's the most consistent While She Sleeps have ever been.
The roles of both Mat Welsh and Sean Long have been stretching beyond simply 'guitarists' in the band for a while now. But it's on So What? Where the duo make their most impressive, important contributions yet. Long's omnipresent textual excellence on songs like 'Elephant' and the title track give them metal elegance, while the vocal performance of Welsh cannot be understated. It's become apparent that Welsh is now the vital organ of this band, and without his vision, or vocal delicacies - the While She Sleeps package would be far from complete.
Somehow While She Sleeps have managed to follow up the best album they ever did, with one that beats its predecessor in almost every area. And if you're looking for the most telltale sign that WSS are up there with the greatest bands of this generation - then the closing gang vocals on 'Gates Of Paradise' should do it for you. So What? Caps off a four album curve of such unprecedented quality you can't help but have a smile one your face when you try to rank this bands efforts. However, this is the most complete, intelligent record Sleeps have ever penned, this is borderline genius, their musical Mona Lisa.