Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, May 8, 2015

While She Sleeps - Brainwashed

Following the release of their first two studio efforts, While She Sleeps had taken the world by storm, earning themselves great praise and a tremendous amount of exposure from critics and metal fans alike, and with good cause. Within a genre plagued by tedious gimmicks and saturated with copycat bands, here we had a 5 piece metalcore act from Sheffield showcasing a good deal of potential and personality by delivering a powerful, straightforward dose of pissed off metallic hardcore. After a 3 year recording break, here we are with the bands' sophomore release Brainwashed.

For those familiar with the bands' previous album, the While She Sleeps have visibly decided to stick to the same formula with Brainwashed. All of the trademark elements you had come to hear from This is the Six are back; from the groovy, metallic hardcore heavy riffs, Lawrence Taylors' roaring pitched screams, the gang vocals, up to the occasional piano sections sparkled here and there throughout the album. From this perspective you'll find that there are no surprises to be found, but for a band at such an early stage of their recording career however, there is no reason for this to be considered a bad thing. What's left to be explored now is how the songs on the album hold up.
I will start out by saying that with this release the sound seems to have gone through a more polished production, which does unfortunately take away some of the bands' raw intensity. Though I am clearly not saying that this album lacks heaviness or intensity (far from it), I will admit that the production does take away a bit from the bands' singularity.
As to the songs on this album, it was to my great regret to find most of the songs to be lacking in terms of structure and pacing. A good deal of the songs seem to move on from one section to the next without as much semblance of coherence aimed towards a specific intention than stringing together a bunch of otherwise great riffs.  The songs don't seem to build up much tension nor do they have enough diversity to make them discernable from one another. While I will give the band some credit for trying to break away from conventional song structures, the songs on here do not hold up and their ideas don't seem properly exploited.
The gang vocals on this release, while not new to the bands' formula, are a lot more prominent this time around, upping the anthemic side of the bands' sound a few notches, notably with tracks like Our Legacy, No sides, no enemies. However, these gang vocals are used so prominently on the album that they not only water down their impact but work against their own goal, much like a power metal bands' over-the-top emphasis on "epicness" can kill the epic side of its music. This issue with the overused gang vocals, coupled with the bands' lyrics do make for quite a cheesy feel for the album.

While there isn't anything inherently wrong with any of the ideas on here, Brainwashed does present itself to me as an album full of great ideas that could have been arranged and put to better use. While She Sleeps have proven their worth as a talented group of musicians as well as an outstanding live act, and this album does hold some moments to vouch for that, notably on Four Walls, Our Legacy as well as with the outstanding, tasteful lead guitar work played out throughout the album. Ultimately though, this album ends up for the most part sounding like an album by a lesser Darkest Hour. Nevertheless, I do urge you to keep your eye on this band and catch this band on tour if you get a chance.


While She Sleeps
Official Website

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