Review Summary: I’m sorry. We have lost our way.
Following a three year period in which they were officially broken up, BoySetsFire returned in 2010 which a string of reunion shows and not much more. Finally word came about earlier this year outlining the details of the veteran melodic-hardcore band’s plans to record a rightful successor to the 2007 critically acclaimed album The Misery Index: Notes From The Plague Years
. Two things are made apparent through the 13 tracks present on BoySetsFire’s first record in over seven year, the first being that Nathan Gray and company still have plenty to be angry about, and that one of the true underappreciated bands of the early 00’s have returned without missing a single beat, bringing with them a newfound sense of purpose and vengeance.
The whole of While A Nation Sleeps…
is tied together through samples of Charlie Chaplin’s final speech in The Dictator
, a tactic that at times may wear thin the patience of listeners, but I personally believe truly manages to add a sense of cohesion and togetherness that otherwise would not be present on an album as scattered as this. Lead vocalist Nathan Gray has returned in full force, as his desperate and fervent screams often overpower the rest of the band, in the best way possible. Songs such as “Heads Will Roll” or album opener “Until Nothing Remains” best showcase this revitalization. But Grey’s impassioned screams have a perfect foil, in the sense that Grey’s dramatically improved clean vocals manage to highlight the power and brutality present on While A Nation Sleeps
. Lyrically, BoySetsFire still spit vehemently into the face of religions and politics in general as the had been doing for years prior to their dismemberment. The aforementioned “Heads Will Roll” best showcases this abhorrence, as Grey spews forth Fuck your prophets. Fuck your Holy Wars
through proverbial gritted teeth, with nary a hint of reservation.
The rest of the band lives up to the precedent set forth by their impassioned lead vocalists, with riffs rearing their heads in plenty of songs, riffs that would put to shame nearly any band in BoySetsFire genre. The main riff in “Wolves of Babylon” is such a riff, bursting with speed and a technical prowess not often heard within the hardcore scene. Throughout the entirety of the record different ideas are liberally added to every track, making for a somewhat scattered, yet thoroughly chaotic listen. Album closer “Prey” is a beautiful, yet critical song. A song that slowly rises and falls to perfectly encapsulate BoySetsFire’s view towards religion, “Prey” is arguably one of the best songs on the entire record. A new sense of emotion is reached without any need of guttural, heart wrenching screams, something that is a true testament to the members of BoySetsFire’s songwriting abilities.
Seven years is a long absence in any profession, but nowhere more arduous than in music, where scenes are constantly rearranging and musical tastes are flipped around without a second thought. The fact that BoySetsFire have returned after such a long hiatus and still have crafted an album as spectacular as While A Nation Sleeps
is astounding. Comeback albums are often greeted with lofty, unrealistic expectations, but it is safe to say that BoySetsFire have surpassed even the wildest of these expectations with While A Nation Sleeps