Date: February 27th 2019
Venue: SWG3, Glasgow
Support: LANDMVRKS / Trash Boat / Stray From The Path
For While She Sleeps, 2019 is set to be a massive year. Having only recently finished off the greatly successful campaign for their award-winning effort ‘You Are We’, the Sheffield metal lot have followed it up with a ferocious new record, ‘So What?’, which sees them throw caution to the wind in emphatic, genre-blurring fashion.
To cap the release off, the five-piece have embarked on a month long, mega European/UK tour to promote the record, including tonight’s stop at SWG3 in Glasgow.
First up are French metalcore outfit LANDMVRKS . The four-piece step onto the stage with some commendable confidence, and for an opening band, they set the mood nicely. They strive through a confidently delivered collection of tracks from their ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Hollow’ records, and, naturally, as the first band on the bill, don’t get too much of crowd, but those who are present are prone to a few head bangs and rounds of applause.
The story is a bit different as the venue fills up a bit more for the entrance of Trash Boat . The St. Albans five-piece may not be the heaviest band on the line-up, as frontman Tobi Duncan concedes around halfway through their set, but that doesn’t stop them driving full-throttle through an almighty, powerhouse of a performance. Duncan‘s guttural screams and smooth cleans provide some voltage to the pit below the stage – his vocals sound particularly excellent live on the grittier, newer tracks like ‘Inside Out’, ‘Shade’, and ‘Nothing New’ from their sophomore record, ‘Crown Shyness’.
It’s apparent that there’s a fair few fans of the group in the crowd, as Duncan jumps past the barriers during the crux of ‘Strangers’, and without a doubt, they’re sure to have made some more tonight on the basis of this emphatic support slot.
Many had been excited to see the enigmatic Stray From The Path  judging by the mumbles of anticipation from the now rammed crowd within the walls of SWG3’s large-scale walls. And, as frontman Drew York and co. step to the stage to the intense, anti-fascist cries of ‘Goodnight Alt-Right’, it’s clear that we’re all in for a fucking good time.
Across an vehemently hefty set, the four-piece warm this place up to what seems to be the same temperature as a forest fire. York declares with passionate intent that the group will use their platform to call out the wrong-doings of society (as fans will no doubt already know), taking note of America’s recent far-right resurgence and Trump‘s reign. On record, tracks like ‘First World Problem Child’, ‘Badge And A Bullet, Pt. II’, ‘Outbreak’, and ‘The Opening Move’ are eccentric, metal-cum-groove-ridden-hardcore heavy hitters, and in a live setting the group recreate them perfectly, with relentless intent, palpable swagger and energy.
The quality of this band is no secret, these guys have been going for a mighty long time now, and on this showing, there’s no sign of them letting up anytime soon. They’re relevant, well-intended, and undeniably pit-worthy – if anything, this is a sign of a band right at the top of their game.
After a hugely enjoyable selection of contrasting, yet quality opening acts, it’s time for the band that’s on everyone’s lips, While She Sleeps , to come and entertain. As the intro of ‘Anti-Social’ blares out, a sea of voices echo off the walls as they chant the mantra of “I’m not anti-social – I’m anti-bullshit.”
It’s clear to see that the band are a man down again tonight; guitarist Mat Welsh dropped off due to illness earlier on the European leg of the tour, but commendably remaining axe-man Sean Long still shreds riffs and licks like nobody’s business. You could forgive the band for having an off day being a member-light, but While She Sleeps don’t do things like that. They’re here to start a riot.
The belting tones of ‘You Are We’ remind us why its eponymous record was so highly-acclaimed, mixing together thunderous riffs and aggression with anthemic choruses – and in a live setting these triumphs are only exaggerated. The emphatic ‘Empire Of Silence’ and its towering chorus are met by fans waving WSS flags defiantly and proudly to the sky, while ‘Civil Isolation’ wreaks havoc in the pit.
New tracks ‘The Guilty Party’ and ‘Haunt Me’ get the live treatment, and to fantastic reception too. The progression the band has seen over the last few years, and their ambitious quest for fresh sounds on those tracks, is evident when pitted against their earlier material. That’s not to say that the cuts from ‘This Is The Six’ and ‘Brainwashed’ on offer tonight, like ‘Seven Hills’ or ‘Four Walls’, lack in quality – far from it – but just that the band have grown beyond that brand of metalcore that they once produced.
As encores go, you save the best ’til last, and the one-two closer of ‘Silence Speaks’ and ‘Hurricane’ feels like the perfect climax to the show, bringing one last dose of arena-worthy hooks and throbbing metal riffs to a dramatic end.
This evening has seen a wide combination of styles, from metalcore, hardcore, rap-metal, straight-up metal bruisers, and everything else in between. Much like the variation of ‘So What?’, While She Sleeps show their ability to orchestrate a great night of music alongside an almighty colossus of a set.