Review Summary: Ignore any preconceptions you may have about this band being just another "scene kids band", take the plug out your backside, and prepare to have your arse rocked off by nothing more than the epitome of "incredible".
If you were to ask any musician in one of the various heavier genres of music what the most important factors of their genre is, emotion would almost always be right near the top. Whether it is the intense hatred of organized religion that a fair percentage of black metal bands preach; or else the self-loathing that many grunge bands of the 1990's infested their sound with, emotion is a key player in music. From time to time, the reliance on true feeling and atmosphere in music can make or break an album, and this was almost certainly the case with the 2012 debut from post-hardcore band While She Sleeps.
This band is one that is often associated with the "scene kid" circle of bands that would also include bands such as Sleeping With Sirens, Black Veil Brides and various other bands embodying similar musical traits. The band achieved a massive amount of praise and a huge following in the aftermath of their debut EP The North Stands For Nothing, and sought to expand their horizons with their first full length album. This is also a release that shows somewhat of a step forward in both style and creativity for the band as in place of the grating, monotonous, and yet still enjoyable sound that they used for their previous release, this really is a varied and magnificent attempt.
The musical style that the band tapped into on This Is The Six is more in-line with the post hardcore than the straightforward hardcore sound that they based their debut around. This is an album that is both exceedingly melodic in places but is also crushingly heavy, straight away setting it apart from many of the other bands that scene kids appear to have latched onto. The atmosphere that the band create with their brutal barrage of bludgeoning riffs is something that will make your jaw drop to the floor. If you had heard about this band as just another band that people who are "90% black fringe and 10% face" adore, then prepare to have your world rocked.
While She Sleeps know exactly what sounds they are striving to create and they do so with minimal fuss. Not a second here is wasted and instead every one of the 45 minutes counts for something. The guitar work is insanely heavy with some crisp and dark tones to it and the drumming is furious. Satisfied In Suffering in particular displays the dynamic guitar work here, with a highly melodic chorus riff that builds off some intense riffing that kicks the track off. Dead Behind The Eyes is another song that shows off how well this band all slot their instruments together. There are no misjudged moments here, with the bass and drums consistently creating a varied and savage rhythm section of the band's music whilst the crunching riffs cause nothing more than amazement. Every song here will deliver a swift kick to the balls of anyone who doubts their abilities, without ever requiring any gimmicky moments. Every moment of this release is pure post-hardcore goodness with no frills attached, and if you want something more then you are too greedy to understand such an album.
However, if you thought you had heard all the band had to offer with the incredible musical backdrops they lay down, then prepared to be stunned by the vocal performance. Returning to the aforementioned point about emotion playing a key part in the soundscape that artists create for a brief moment, more often than not the epitome of emotion in music is found in a vocal performance. Be it the heart wrenching vocal lines that spoke volumes about the struggles of Layne Staley or the over the top nature of Corey Taylor, vocalists have a weight on their shoulders : To communicate feeling without any real necessity for lyrical content. To put it simply, Lawrence Taylor nails this aspect of music flawlessly on This Is The Six. Seven Hills and opener Dead Behind The Eyes are two completely different styles of song, but he throws his heart and spirit into both with some aggressive, furious vocal passages that channel so much rage throughout that it will knock the breath clean out of your lungs.
The song craft here is among the best out there. There are no real flashy sections on This Is The Six, but instead this band relies on going directly for the throat. The opening moments of Dead Behind The Eyes set the morbid and livid tone that this release embodies, and this continues pretty much for the entirety. Our Courage, Our Cancer takes a foot off the accelerator in favor of some piano driven melodies and this actually serves as a great way to break up the flow of the album before the riffs to that track kick in and it shows off some of the band's best work to date, including a neat solo to boot. The next few tracks are pretty much business as usual for the band, delving into the depths of their pool of riffs to deliver yet another deadly dosage of doom and gloom, before yet another piano is heard on Love At War. From here on out this album never fails to give away the goods with some beautiful, stellar instrumental work throughout and nothing more than the absolute best one could ask of a band on their debut.
The lyrical content is another reason that this release succeeds as much as it does. From the start to the finish, the band casts out every dark and insightful thought that is running through their brain. From the flak they deliver to the entire world and the state of it with the first song through every other track, this is nothing more than raw emotion throughout. If lines such as "Have we given up, should we hang the bastard young? To save them from the nothing that so many have become," do not get your blood pumping and your heart racing and thoughts ticking away inside your head, then it is unlikely that anything will, and you are probably either a coma patient or living under a rock. And of course no album would be complete without a crisp production job, but this is not an overly clean one in the vein of the latest Whitechapel album. Instead, While She Sleeps take it upon themselves to find the middle ground between a gritty and husky production work and still maintain a modern and powerful, hi-tech work, and they nail it to a T on here.
To put it simply, tracks such as the title track here display perfectly just how solid this release is. The manic shrieks that infest this track coupled with the gang shouts are nothing more than sex to the ears, and should win the listener over instantly. This track and Dead Behind The Eyes are my two most recommended songs but honestly, if you are feeling in the mood for 45 minutes of unadulterated rage and adrenaline, this is the one album to check out. You will not be disappointed.