Sheffield-based metalcore band While She Sleeps has been around for almost a decade, and was once named Best British Newcomer at the Kerrang! Awards in 2012.
Second album Brainwashed is an intense collection fusing the usual violent vocals with truly melodic guitar runs, lightning-bolt drum hits and some unexpected quieter turns as well. The singles, spaced throughout the album, scale the band’s attempt to capture despair and the attempts to climb out of it.
New World Torture follows The Divide intro’s pre-gig chatter with a soundtrack designed to bring the house down. The thick low guitars and bass, menacing chants and throaty shouts from Lawrence “Loz” Taylor suit a fight to the death at ‘Thunderdome’, apart from the fitting chords and guitars whose strong melody lines navigate out of despair. Four Walls sounds claustrophobic, before it smashes down the barriers. Trophies of Violence is weighed down by the industrial throb of Nine Inch Nails and a sense of the end of the world, as Taylor screams for dear life. Our Legacy unleashes fury yet victory through emphatic chords and jubilant, even slightly funky electric guitar licks that squelch with energy and verve.
Your Evolution has fine playing from guitarists Sean Long and Mat Welsh, with churning riffs in the chorus that venture towards finely-plucked arpeggios. This, along with the Foo Fighters-like title track, pummel relentlessly like a racehorse. However, their tempos oscillate so frequently that they almost lose momentum.
Torment adds a hellish and tortuous tinge to euphoric 1990s hard rock with its jumpy rhythm, tuneful bridge and thick background vocals, though Life In Tension does get a bit too Bon Jovi at times. No Sides, No Enemies nonetheless has an enchanting riff throughout that culminates in an uplifting stripped-down drum-driven bridge, with a choir section that suggests camaraderie and possibilities to the world outside. The brief The Woods spookily recalls a bit of The Exorcist theme, with an unsettling crackling that could even be a vinyl record playing or a fire. Method In Madness has too much at once, but Modern Minds is an epic closer that wraps things up on an resounding note.
Brainwashed can be tough and confronting to listen to all the way through, but its musically enlightening moments are especially rewarding and worth it.