Review Summary: Think of what you hate worst about metalcore combined with what excites you about While She Sleeps.
While She Sleeps have an extraordinarily loyal fanbase. The fact that they are still a hugely popular modern metal band after their third album, “You Are We”
, was directly funded by the fans and is named after the strong bond between artist and audience, speaks volumes to what can be achieved when you have the power of the people supporting you and what happens when a band gives what they receive. That being said, it seems like even their devoted army is becoming a little too lenient with the band, convincing themselves that although the music might be subpar, at least they are way more caring to their fans than other bands.
That’s not to say While She Sleeps don’t deserve the universal praise that they have received. When the aforementioned album was released in 2017, the band had spent only five years breathing fresh air into the desperate, deteriorating lungs of metalcore. Resurrecting an entire genre on their debut album, and then accentuating their success on the following albums is commendable. However, despite their deserved success, it still seems like there is an awkward ‘but…’ with this band. For example, Loz is a great singer BUT he sounds exactly the same on every album. Fans funded their last album and they’re still huge BUT it sounded incredibly harmless. They’re one of the leaders of the metalcore scene BUT they exhibit barely any signs of progression. Et cetera.
Coincidentally, While She Sleeps decides to shift towards the mainstream on their fourth album, “So What"”
, following in the steps of the modern metal titans Parkway Drive and Architects. Its glossy production job acts as a double-edged sword, accentuating the driven riffs on “Elephant” and short jazzy aerobic melodies on the title track as equally as the sickeningly cheesy zippo lighter/mobile torch-raised-in-the-air clean vocals on tracks such as “Inspire”, “I’ve Seen It All” and the nasally “Gates of Paradise”. Consequently, there are trace amounts of grit on this album; barely any part of “So What"”
offers and sense of spite or danger which, ultimately, badly contradicts the serious charisma of the band. Think of everything you hate about metalcore and combine that with whatever excites you about this band and that is exactly what their new album sounds like.
Every piece of While She Sleeps’ music gravitates around discovering inner courage and/or uniting against a common enemy. Ironically, this splits an audience into finding that approach either spiritedly uplifting or nauseatingly dull. Songs like “The Guilty Party” and “Back of my Mind” have chest-thumping riffs and anthemic choruses that somewhat make you want to take a stand. Yet, the same songs project such uninspired copy & paste metalcore characteristics- isolated singing against glimmering melodies, predictable mosh calls, replacing lyrics with ‘woah’, harsh verses and soft choruses etc. Plus, the amount of times this album fades in and out to expose some recluse sense of fragility is downright irritating. Not only do these techniques make the band’s sincerely delivered messages sound weak, but you even find yourself disagreeing with them because of how monotonous it all sounds. If you want the world to be a better place then stop reminding everyone how bloody awful it is.
Despite containing some great melodic hooks, “So What"”
is easily While She Sleeps’ softest, angstiest and unoriginal album to date, and the lurking ‘but…’ has never been so apparent here. To quote Korg from ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, it’s like While She Sleeps tried to start a revolution but didn’t print enough pamphlets. Those that enjoy the tried and tested metalcore aspects that concluded the genre’s downfall will find plenty you love about “So What"”
, those that hate those aspects will find plenty to love in literally anything else.