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Review: While She Sleeps – This Is The Six [Album]

Review: While She Sleeps – This Is The Six [Album]

Search And Destroy // "I didn’t want to believe the hype but this relentless & powerful debut LP has stomped over the competition this year''

Review   4194 Views
Last Edited by: Candi H August 13th, 2012.

In 2010 the UK was told that The North Stands for Nothing by a relatively new band called While She Sleeps on their debut mini-album. Considering how that particular part of the country has been cultivating a sea of musical talent over the years, I could argue otherwise. Recent noteworthy examples on the metal front include the hugely successful Bring Me The Horizon and Asking Alexandria as well as female-fronted underground mathcorers Rolo Tomassi.

Well this particular Sheffield quintet had formed in 2006 by then vocalist Jordan Widdowson, bassist Aaran McKenzie, drummer Adam Savage and guitarists Sean Long and Mat Welsh. After a change in leadership in 2009 saw Lawrence Taylor take to the mic, they took to the road and later recorded said mini effort to wide acclaim; their own recipe of metal, hardcore and punk turning out to be something undeniably special. Therefore, with the label of being the UK’s next big thing in the metal world to live up to, the construction of a full-length LP was realised last winter; producing duties falling with Carl Brown (Fightstar, Rise to Remain).

A few months later and grasping a new deal with Search And Destroy Records, This is the Six was announced by the band with a release date of August 13th 2012.



The pressure was on. And more so when the guys, to their surprise, took home the Kerrang! Award for Best British Newcomer in June of this year; beating now label-mates Don Broco (with their debut LP being released on the same day) and gothic-rock horror pups Fearless Vampire Killers. So, to say the twelve track release was highly-anticipated would be a major understatement. Making it apparent that they would set out to polish their sound but not specifically focus on one type of genre, they headed into the studio with a clear mind and without the worry of how exactly it would turn out.

Well, when the title-track emerged as the first single with an accompanying video in May, even for someone who isn’t a long-standing fan of the band, I was excited. Guitars screech into ear-shot as rolling drums follow closely and Lawrence’s gruff croaks become audible -“I’m going to tell you straight, between the struggle and the heartache. There’s a bitter taste, the bitter taste of a better place” he enlightens before the entire band explode into a symphony of downright brutal metalcore.

WATCH // 'This Is The Six'


Rapid-fire riffs and equally breakneck rhythms are breath-taking, but as much as the metal hits hard, the hardcore influence is strong in the off-beat refrains. “I will put my strength in numbers; this is the six!” the memorable chant rings out and as fierce as the instrumentation is, the melodies under the colliding beats are clear and strong. It’s also worth pointing out that the video is the perfect back-drop to this (quite literally) fiery demon of a song, and one which helps explain the song and album title’s meaning - The five band members and the fans; the six.

So, having enticed me in, I was ready to hear what else the Sheffielders had in their bag of thrashing tricks. 'Dead Behind the Eyes' features guest vocals from Andrew Neufeld, lead vocalist of Canadian hardcore-punk rockers Comeback Kid; another assured sign of the style being a predominant influence here. And sure enough the pace is set with Adam’s fast and furious kit work; his surname living up to expectations. As the frontman growls, “I can’t piece together the problems; I’m telling you to think for yourself. I can’t put peace in the violence; I’m not going to fight it!” in one particular menacing breakdown, it’s gut-wrenchingly good.

WATCH // 'Dead Behind the Eyes'



The Dragonforce-esque guitar wizardry of 'False Freedom's opening hits you like a torrent of fists before it breaks out the chugging riffs and threatening beat-downs. An unexpected piano break is more than welcome; like a breath in between rounds with Mike Tyson. It’s a really nice touch that with added gang vocals is sure to become a highlight in the live environment. The metal/punk trade-offs continue to shine in 'Satisfied in Suffering'; opening like Corey Taylor and his band of boiler-suited brothers, While She Sleeps bound from big melodious punk refrains and drilling heavy metal wedges without a trace of effort. Carl Brown can be thanked for a lot of these seamless exchanges; his clean and flawless production making it seem second nature. The fuel in This Is The Six’s blazing furnace as well as a top-notch sound, is the camaraderie felt. None more so on second single 'Seven Hills' which in itself is about friendship and the people they’ve met along the way. With the discovery of the closure of their 8-year hang-out/practice space, the lads couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate The Barn (as it’s fondly known) than by filming the video for the song there with friends and fans.

WATCH // 'Seven Hills'


And what a final send-off it is. With more roof-raising gang vocals, it’s an extremely moving hardcore oeuvre that doesn’t yield for a moment. “I know, there's people in the places I've been, who I know I'll never find again!” is repeatedly bellowed from the rafters, which incidentally Lawrence grapples and mounts throughout the sweat-soaked video like a man singing for his life. It’s not the most feral of the album’s tracks but the meaning behind it resonates more, and with an eye-wateringly tense drum march climax, you can feel the passion that was there that night.

Emotion is something that evidently comes naturally to While She Sleeps. 'Our Courage, Our Cancer' for one, is a hugely raw and emotive three and a half minute number with a surprisingly tender piano melody in its vulnerable intro. The same can be said for 'The Chapel'; a really attractive instrumental interval with just a recurring sombre guitar melody and intermittent jarring piano notes. It’s delicate yet dark and with the background sound of a smouldering fire becoming more clear throughout, I became pretty hypnotised by it. Struggling to find fault, I continued through the album’s second half looking for a slip-up. But it didn’t come.

'Be(lie)ve' which was actually released as a single last year (featuring on the mini-album’s later released Deluxe Edition) sounds more refined and somehow more vicious, especially in its rebellious rally cries – “Fuck the law, we wrote the order. Fuck the bridge because we built the borders! I’d rather take my life then believe. I’d rather rot with the answers!”; their view on the current state of this nation truly hitting home.

A similar message follows through into 'Love at War'; lyrics focusing on the distinct lack of respect for the older generation who fought for this country. There’s even more variation in styles here with both a soft piano-led intro and outro filled in-between with shredding guitars, cascading melodies and a southern-metal groove akin to Toronto’s finest, Cancer Bats. After continuing to tear us a new one with the brutally fun 'The Plague of a New Age', the closer is yet another twist in the mix. 'Reunite' wheels out the keys once more with a stirring melody and even more inspiring words - “The North still stands for nothing but the streets don’t feel the same. We are the neighbours of broken promise in a nation that will never change”. A fantastic ending to a fantastic album.



So, it’s a given that I was disappointed with This is the Six. Yeah right. As much as I didn’t want to believe the hype, their debut LP sucked me in and didn’t spit me out until it was certain it had done the job. While She Sleeps have unquestionably proven to be the new face of British metal and have stomped over the competition this year with a relentless and powerful hardcore hybrid. The North may stand for nothing but the ‘Six stands for a new generation of UK music.

This is the Six is out Monday 13th August

Worth Listening To...
  • Seven Hills
  • This Is the Six
  • Our Courage, Our Cancer
  • Love at War

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