While She Sleeps - So What? review
|Band:||While She Sleeps|
|Release date:||March 2019|
02. I've Seen It All
04. So What
05. The Guilty Party
06. Haunt Me
08. Set You Free
09. Good Grief
10. Back Of My Mind
11. Gates Of Paradise
Personally I feel not having Steve Austin guest on the title track is a missed opportunity.
While She Sleeps have always appeared like the little brother to Architects and Bring Me The Horizon, following where their more successful peers have gone and tried to make that transition to the next level with each subsequent release. So What? is the band's 4th album and one that carries the band's momentum forward rather than adding to it, seeing While She Sleeps trying to borrow elements from their bigger brothers in the hope of making the leap to the next level quicker.
So What? has an enhanced focus on electronic sounds and effects designed to broaden the band's scope, sound and appeal. Following in the footsteps of Sempiternal and Holy Hell, While She Sleeps create a middle ground between the two, hinting at the commerciality of latter-day Bring Me The Horizon while keeping more of an edge to their music ala Architects. This middle ground the band lay claim to is both generic and unique-sounding in equal measure (hinting at a similar sound to Crossfaith); while the implementation of electronic elements is nothing new and isn't done in a particularly distinctive way, the band manage to maintain enough of their character to distinguish themselves from amongst the crowd.
While She Sleeps are for the most part successful in their attempts at creating a potent storm of sounds, with the album featuring more hits than misses in terms of song quality, with tracks like "Haunt Me", "Set You Free" and "Anti-Social" benefitting from the flirtation with other sounds and creating a solid set of songs that will get you moving and singing along.
It isn't all plain sailing, however, as the breakdown at the end of "Anti-Social" and the introduction to "I've Seen It All" are indicative of the pitfalls of co-opting the zeitgeist to expand your appeal; rather than blending the electronic elements into the songs to work with the music, they are thrown in amongst the music with scant regard as to how they fit into the song, and feel like an unnecessary addition dropped on top rather than within a song.
For the most part, however, these are the exceptions rather than the rule, with songs like "Inspire" and "Back Of My Mind" being built around these effects and samples and sounding as if the band put them in for a reason rather than bolting them on as an afterthought. It is when these elements are mixed into the songs with precision that the album has it's brightest moments, creating a hybrid sound of power and electronica that gives the songs a different edge that will have you coming back for another listen again and again.
In addition to this, the band do borrow elements from different genres and build songs with other elements in them other than their standard metalcore sound. 2019 was an odd year for sure, and the undercurrent of remerging nu metal certainly added to that, with songs like "The Guilty Party" and "Gates Of Paradise" integrating nu metal concepts into the song structures. The band do this very well, making their additions subtle enough that it is up to the listener to notice their inclusion rather than having them up front and prominently displayed.
The band are on good form, with Loz offering a diverse set of vocal approaches, from quasi-rapping in songs like "So What?" to cleaner melodic passages through to his usual fare. Long and Welsh do well on guitar; although there is less focus on them this time round, the guys do throw in a few decent licks and riffs here and there to remind you they are still very much there and can step up should the occasion require. McKenzie is probably the greatest victim of the band's new sound, finding himself pushed to the back of a very long corridor in terms of the number of elements included in the songs.
I must admit, when I first heard what direction the band were publicly aiming for I was sceptical and preparing myself for the worst; the odds of a band ruining themselves in their attempts to broaden their appeal by dabbling in more mainstream sounds are extremely high in my experiences. The album did take a few listens before it really started to grow on me, but once it took hold, it held on tight and refused to let go, maturing into a collection of songs that, while I don't listen to that often, are like an old acquaintance when played on those odd occasions. A worthy addition to the While She Sleeps collection and something I would suggest sceptics give a chance.
||Written on 29.08.2020 by|
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