Modern Minds

Sheffield metal gang While She Sleeps are in many ways a typical popular modern metal band. Technically stellar, their merchandise flies onto the sweaty backs of boys and hangs off the shoulders of girls alike, they’re ambitious and committed. This also means sounding much like a number of bands at the heavy end of the spectrum that actually make a living from this music and have a genuine ‘first love’ young fanbase. Bands like Of Mice and Men and the godfathers of this scene Bring Me The Horizon.

The production on new album Brainwashed is precise and crunchy; it has power but no provocation fitting closely to the mould created by the much gruffer Pantera in the early nineties (remind yourself that that is over twenty years ago now). Some of the textured, accessible riffs touch on the populism of that most maligned of metal sub-genres: nu-metal. Methods in Madness even sounds like the moniker of Tommy Lee’s terrible rap-metal band Methods of Mayhem. The band has a not insubstantial following; this record has been plonked atop the top of the rock charts this week and the quintet start a lengthy tour supporting sludgecore veterans Cancer Bats across Europe and the UK imminently.

Before all that, Brainwashed starts with the rising chatter of a crowd as Loz Taylor announces that, “We are the underground, they know nothing of our sound!”. There’s definite community in this album, it’s touched upon throughout Taylor’s lyrics. The cliche of ‘music as therapy’ is invoked here too but given the trials and tribulations faced by the young band (throat surgery, an enforced three year gap in releases…) you feel that there’s no bullshit with While She Sleeps from the gang vocals, to the ‘in this together’ lyrics and questing, linear music. They mean this and would scrape it into their school desks to show you and so will their fans.

That boxy, chugging metalcore riff minted sometime in the last decade frequently coupled with a sympathetic melodic guitar line is present and correct on numerous Brainwashed tracks, a simple irony, from New World Torture to Torment but guitarist and co-songwriter Matt Welsh signposts a different sound with a warmer, more classically rock tone that finds space amongst the homogeneity. On tracks such as Your Evolution, We Are Alive Alive at Night and The Woods While She Sleeps have a greater variety and contemplation and are the better for it. The latter song places the end of the album at the end of the night around the crackle of a campfire on Sunday night at Reading Festival, probably. Not enough to convince older ears, perhaps, but an indication of where While She Sleeps sit in the pack and a nod to a future beyond breakdowns and teenage rebellion.