Overall Score: 10/10 Memorable Songs: 10/10 Lyrics: 10/10 Riffs: 9/10 Pros: Everything. Cons: Not a bad word to say about it.
Sometimes an album comes along that once it has been heard, it instantly makes the listener think “this is truly a game changer”. Reign In Blood. Master Of Puppets. The Blackening. Add While She Sleeps’ You Are We to that list.
For their third album, While She Sleeps have gone the DIY route, abandoning their previous label home with Search & Destroy Records to set up shop in their custom built Sheffield headquarters. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. Their previous releases, particularly the two full length albums, This Is The Six and Brainwashed, have contained exceptional heavy songs, as well as some fantastic more melodic songs. On You Are We, While She Sleeps have honed their skills further to present a brilliant synergy of the two styles throughout the album.
The opening title track sets the pace and tone from the word go. “Here lies our intention” bellows Loz Taylor after a hypnotic guitar intro. If that intention is to gain the listeners full attention, they will succeed every time. Second track Steal The Sun is a blistering example of Loz at his furious best throughout the verses, while the infamous ‘Sleeps gang vocals are used to some of their best effect to date in places in and around a memorable chorus. This track also contains a breakdown so huge that when it is played live, one would imagine the result will be like a bomb going off for all the carnage it is likely to cause. Add in some of While She Sleeps’ best lyrics to date, and you have an absolutely titanic song. And this is just track two.
Something While She Sleeps have always been very good at is “capturing the mood”. Some of the singles already released from You Are We (Civil Isolation in particular) have shown that this may be the most political While She Sleeps album to date. Nowhere is this more evident than in the track Empire Of Silence, one of the album’s most compelling songs. With it’s chorus cry of “We’re building walls when it should have been bridges”, it captures the isolationist behaviour going on in parts of the world currently in just a few potent words, and is a message that this isn’t the way things should be. This is just one example; such rallying cries are peppered throughout the album, and make the album resonate on a level beyond the music.
One might think the quality would drop after such an impressive beginning, but the drop never comes. Wide Awake will stay long in the memory with its frenetic drumming and vocal hooks of all kinds. Silence Speaks, the much heralded single featuring a guest turn from Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon, melds the heavy and the melodic perfectly. Another single, Hurricane, is yet another highlight, ticking virtually every box of ‘Sleeps considerable arsenal with it’s “all my thoughts are useless” refrain and finger melting fret work. Heading towards the close (and still going at top speed), Civil Isolation is another lyrical masterclass about the disparate society in many parts of the UK and further afield, before the album closes with In Another Now. The raw energy and emotion which can be felt throughout You Are We comes to a perfect culmination In Another Now, before one last riff finally gently tails off into the ether.
It is truly difficult to find fault with this album. Every member of the band has raised their level like their life depends on it, which may be a truer statement than it first appears. Having returned to their DIY roots away from the relative comparable safety net of being a “signed band”, While She Sleeps have put it all on the line with this album. For it not to be a huge success would be nothing short of a travesty. As far as metal is concerned in 2017, it will be tough to find a better album. You Are We should be a game changer for While She Sleeps and it is going to be a fascinating ride seeing where it takes them.
You Are We is released on the 21st of April 2017. Pre-order the album or pledge for a variety of unique, special While She Sleeps items at their PledgeMusic page. Their huge UK tour begins on the 14th of April in London with a show at the Old Blue Last, please see http://www.whileshesleeps.com/ for full details.