Review Summary: Falls short of its predecessor, but only by the narrowest of margins.
“Our legacy won’t be wasted on me” screams While She Sleeps’ frontman Lawrence “Loz” Taylor on “Our Legacy”. Lines like this really highlight the values behind the Sheffield outfit’s sophomore record Brainwashed
. Coming off their well-received debut This Is The Six
and leaping to a high position in modern metalcore put them in a decidedly different place than where they began. With this album, Sleeps (as they are affectionately referred to by fans) are making it clear that while they are in a different place now, they remember where they came from and understand the impact they are leaving behind.
This Is The Six
had a lot going for it. Outside of simply being a collection of great songs, the album was bursting with hardcore energy and touching melodic flourishes that exemplified abrasion and accessibility in equal measure. Brainwashed
doesn’t waste any of that potential. All the energy is still there, and the formula is pretty much the same. In between large swathes of burly power chord riffing and breakneck tempos, Sleeps have a knack for implanting melodic earworms. On the first album, piano was used heavily and gave it much of its unique voice. Here those piano passages have been toned down significantly, and their trademark anthemic gang vocals have been ratcheted up more than a few notches. The band’s sound is generally a pretty even split between metal and hardcore influences. The guitars shift between simplistic hardcore grooves and more precise and metallic fare nicely, and “Our Legacy” even features a full on shred solo. The vocals themselves tend more towards hardcore, with scathing yells and screams in abundance. The performance is particularly impressive when one takes into account the vocal surgeries Loz Taylor undertook prior to this album. If there is any noticeable change, it’s that his voice sounds even gruffer and more vicious than before.
, after a short intro track, opens with three of the heaviest songs Sleeps have ever written. “New World Torture” in particular demolishes as an opener and features an incredibly heavy breakdown in the back half. It isn’t until “We Are Alive At Night” that things really start to change up. The short interlude features gorgeous clean guitar passages that build up nicely into “Our Legacy”, a clear album highlight. Passionate lyrics and melodic guitar work make it very memorable, especially after the aggressive leanings of the early tracks. “Four Walls” continues the melodic trend, at least through its opening minute, before returning to heavier passages. Much of Brainwashed’s
back half is business as usual. Tracks like “Life In Tension” tend towards melody, while “Trophies of Violence” and its ilk are more violent in nature, but they all have the bands signature blend stamped on them in some manner. Perhaps it’s a groovier break in one of the softer songs, or a pretty guitar lead in an otherwise crushing song, but the band usually reconciles the two halves to their sound. Best of all, it never sounds pasted together in any way.
If there is a downfall here, it’s that the album isn’t as immediately satisfying as This Is The Six
was. There’s a little less memorability overall, and not a lot of experimentation to be found, which holds Brainwashed
back from properly topping its predecessor. However, your usual While She Sleeps is still pretty damn good, so it’s hard to complain too loudly. From the runaway train headbanger “New World Torture” to the beautiful climax of “Modern Minds”, any Sleeps fan will find a lot to love here and many a newcomer may find something as well. While She Sleeps is leaving a bright and shining legacy for all to see and only good things seem to be coming their way now.
If you want words to live your life by,
Walk the graves, walk the graves.
It’s written on the head stones,
Time waits for no one