Alternative rock band While She Sleeps are back, with their second full-length album, Brainwashed, released in North America, Tuesday, April 21st. Vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor, had to undergo surgery last year to his vocal chords to save his voice, and his career. After the surgery put a pause to the production of Brainwashed, the band are finally ready to unveil their newest creation. As their first release since 2012’s This Is The Six, the band have shown off their maturity with their intricate melodic instrumentation, catchy layering, and in-depth lyrical development. In the rock scene, this is not an album to be missed.
The album opens with “Divide,” a minute long piece of overlapping chatter, which leads into “New World Torture.” You are immediately hit with While She Sleeps’s unclean vocals, and heavy instrumentation complement. They show off their melodic movement with the piece, having the intricate chord progression go from heavy to softer, and allowing lots of time for instrumental recognition. With them building the song up and bringing it back down shows off the groups dynamic ability, vocally and instrumentally. The next song, “Your Evolution,” is like “New World Torture,” in that it continues to identify the bands’ effective instrumentation layering and progression. This track in particular shows off their complementary jumps from hard rock guitar riffs, to slower, softer guitar instrumentation, and harmonium vocal blending. Though in both tracks, along with many more off the album, the vocal diction could use improvement for the listener. This becomes the biggest critique of the record, with the difficulty of lyrical understanding. The next track, “Brainwashed,” a heavier piece off the album, is sure to be a fan favorite with it’s emotional in-depth lyrical craftsmanship. It starts to show off more long-awaited clean vocals as well. The bridge of the song, while vocalist Lawrence (Loz) Taylor sings, “we’re being brainwashed,” followed by a heavy instrumental breakdown, is sure to become a highlight for fans for many While She Sleeps shows to come.
“We Are Alive At Night,” a short minute long instrumental, slows things down for a small moment. It’s simple, yet blending guitar harmonies make it a lovely piece, but it feels slightly out-of-place as the album immediately picks back up again into the rock song, “Our Legacy.” One of the most complex songs instrumentation wise, it uses passionate remarkable lyrics to easily captivate any listener. “Live every moment as if it was your last. Honor the past, but never looking back, I should count my blessings from all I have.”
The album then leads into it’s crown jewel, the moving, “Four Walls.” You’re automatically struck with hard-hitting lyrical craftsmanship as the song opens with, “So when the saints go marching in, they won’t be singing for your sins. They just hope to hell you’ve learned something, living and breathing.” The chorus of the song itself makes it one of the highlights from the record, with its extreme complex guitar riffs, vocal blending, balance, and polyphonic textures. Lyrically, the song just gets better and better as you go, with the melody of the song captivating your attention entirely, and the meaning and pain in the lyrics hitting you like a ton of bricks.
The next track, “Torment,” opens with sporadic heavy instrumentation that stays throughout the piece. This song has possibly some of the best instrumentation off the album as it balances it’s once again polyphonic instrumental texture throughout the song. “Kangaezu Ni” which is Japanese for “without thinking”, is the next track. Another minute long instrumental, this one seems to fit better as a break from the high energy heavy music as being a simple piano melody to calm things down. Things get quickly kicked back up again with “Life In Tension.” lyrically, this song is the most inspirational and positive from the record. With lyrics like, “this music is our therapy, a song for those who never give up,” it is sure to become a fan favorite because of it’s heavy yet melodically upbeat tone and positive message to all listeners. The next track, “Trophies of Violence”, is in a different direction. With the darkest lyrics off the album, it can go a few different ways. With it’s loathsome feel and vibe of repugnance, it can either come off as distasteful and objectionable, or a phenomenal, eerily crafted anthem of truth.
The album continues on with “No Sides No Enemies,” instrumental “The Woods,” and “Method In Madness”. Three tracks that are great, but are similar to the rest of the album. We then reach “Modern Minds”, the perfect track to close the record with, which has a different feel than any other song off the album. It opens with a beautifully arranged piano melody and clean vocals, then starts to pick up a bit with the addition of upbeat rock guitar riffs to the piano. Taylor then comes in with unclean vocals and screams out another set of tremendously crafted, beautifully dark lyrics–“Don’t give up, give up, give up on yourself, brainwashed like everyone else. Don’t bottle your dreams, hide them away.” The song then gradually moves from heavy to soft instrumentation until it concludes.
As the sophomore album from While She Sleeps, it is hard to imagine a future album that could get any better than Brainwashed. As one of the best album releases of the alternative rock genre so far this year, the band have truly outdone themselves with the level of craftsmanship, effort, and emotion put into this album. They have put everything out on the table, and given all they have for the creation of this record, which is why it will be marveled by rock and metal fans for years to come.
Download: “Four Walls” and “Modern Minds”
Rated: 4.5 out of 5 Stars