While She Sleeps have been consistently pinpointed as the next big band in UK heavy metal. Magazines like Metal Hammer have pinned their flags to the Sleeps mast and the excitement surrounding them only seems to grow. That momentum looked set to sweep to the top, but then disaster struck. While calling it a tragedy would be diminishing a word that is used to describe things like a member of One Direction pissing off, it’s fair to say the vocal problems that hit lead singer Loz and his subsequent throat surgery, threw the first big spanner in the While She Sleeps express.
Thankfully, this particular express couldn’t be derailed that easily and Sleeps have powered through, leading us to the release of their second full length album, Brainwashed. But did the time out do the band harm? How has Loz’s surgery affected his vocals? Was that top still spinning? Well here’s my attempt to answer at least some of these questions.
No. Not much and I have no idea. There you go, lets all go home. Oh alright then. Brainwashed is While She Sleeps taking everything that made This is the Six good and amping it up to 11. Huge sing along gang vocals, spiky spat lyrics and the kind of hook filled heaviness that makes you want to bounce on the spot while simultaneously hitting things.
Opener proper, as all albums seem to now there is a 50 second intro track, ‘New World Torture’ is a call to arms. ‘We are the underground, they know nothing of our sound’ is the message as the track comes in and the whole thing has a marching feel to it, as it is backed up by chants of ‘brainwashed’ running through the song. It’s a statement right from the off and it’s a statement that claims Sleeps are here to kick ass and chew bubblegum.
The title track is a much more spiky affair. Machine gun drumming and an even bigger fuck you attitude. It sees Sleeps at their most vicious. A band who genuinely don’t give a fuck what you think and aren’t afraid to tell you so. This not giving a fuck attitude extends to their willingness to move away from the heavy. To play with their sound and try something out. ‘We Are Alive at Night’ is a one minute acoustic piece, which blends effortlessly into ‘Our Legacy’ which has a fist in the air epicness to it that is often missing from modern heavy metal.
Loz’s vocals are great throughout and there is no hint of the problems that besieged him. Whether he is belting out the chorus of ‘Four Walls’ or roaring his way through ‘Torment’ he sounds great and you would never guess he had been away. He’s also backed up every step of the way by the rest of his band. Whether it’s the spiky aggression of ‘Trophies of Violence’ or the scream along ‘No Sides, No Enemies’, While She Sleeps prove themselves to be one hell of a band and god damn can they write songs.
Brainwashed is the logical follow up to This is the Six. It’s bigger, angrier and feels like a band who are maturing year after year. It’s also yet more proof that this guy are the real deal and with them about to hit the road with Cancer Bats, it feels like those are a set of shows that you would insane to miss.