Sheffield’s While She Sleeps aren’t your typical metal band. The five-piece have consistently pushed the constrictions of their style into its furthest regions, and with great success too, typically delivering great records littered with memorable moments.
Following the success of 2017’s self-released ‘You Are We’, hype is locked on at maximum level. So, what better way to welcome to the ranks ‘So What?’, the band’s most ambitious, purposeful, and ferocious release that they’ve put their name to yet.
‘So What?’ is the sound of a band who know what’s key to their trademark sound and harness it to great effect, while still having the balls to plunge their whole feet into fresher elements, like nu-metal, punk, or polished electronics.
Starting in stupidly emphatic fashion with lead single ‘Anti-Social’, a barnstorming, brutal rejection of the flaws and tropes of 21st century life, it’s as perfect an opener as the band could’ve written. The other pre-released tracks follow in the same vain too; ‘The Guilty Party’, with its sonic touch of soft, swooping vocal patches and trickling electronics takes nothing away from its permeating demolishing heaviness, while ‘Haunt Me’ carries buzzing guitars across an almighty, piercing chorus – the latter being one of greatest skills that While She Sleeps have added to their game of late.
Elsewhere, the best of the rest is… well, all of it really. This record doesn’t let up, from the heavy metal-turned-spitting-bars of ‘Inspire’ and ‘Back Of My Mind’, the ferocity of ‘Elephant’, or the sumptuously catchy, more melodic moments like ‘Good Grief’. There’s intricate guitar work aplenty, utterly scream-along, lung-bursting choruses, and some of most technical drumming that Adam Savage has ever tracked.
Lyrically, the themes are consistent, offering a post-disaster commentary that ultimately follows the aftermath of ‘You Are We’ that depicts disillusionment and pissed reactions at the fractured society of modern times. It;s a lyrical formula that gives a platform to Lawrence Taylor‘s grizzly vocals, while bigger, cleaner group vocal, like on ‘Set You Free’, triumphantly capture a unison of outrage in similarly captivating fashion.
Many bands fluster and falter upon tackling new, fresher sounds and, ultimately, struggle to find balance when experimenting, but the same cannot be said here. While She Sleeps are experts at their craft, and on ‘So What?’, they’re ballsy enough to push it a few steps further. It’s a truly daring release, but more importantly, it’s one of the best alternative records of recent times and fully cements their place at the core of the British metal scene.