‘You Are We’ is finally here, and once again, the fiercely independent While She Sleeps are back on the road. With a vast majority of the dates sold out (tonight’s Glasgow Garage show included), the air is thick with anticipation.
While In Hearts Wake may not seem like the most pertinent choice on paper to be on a While She Sleeps bill, they do a fantastic job of warming up this Tuesday evening crowd. Peddling the kind of modern metalcore not dissimilar to that of fellow countrymen Northlane and The Amity Affliction, the band open strongly with the catchy ‘Refuge’.
While nothing here feels particularly fresh, the gusto with which tracks like ‘Badlands’ and ‘Warcry’ are performed is infectious, and it is to their credit that softer songs like Wildflower feel cohesive within such an energetic set. Closing with ‘Earthwalker’’s uber-heavy title track, frontman Jake Taylor ends up in the middle of the floor, as those around him lap up the beatdowns. Job done. (3.5/5)
Before Sleeps take the stage, the authenticity and attention to detail is undeniable. Amplifiers and drums are backlit teal to match ‘You Are We’’s artwork, with each bit of equipment customised and scrawled upon. With fans having been apart of the album’s creation from the word go, more than ever, there’s a palpable feeling of mutual appreciation and camaraderie between band and audience before a single note has been played.
When While She Sleeps do start, they simply crush. ‘YAW’’s title track is a revelation in the live arena, and with the pulverising one-two of ‘Seven Hills’ and ‘Brainwashed’ following soon after, it’s a solid gold start to their set.
Although ‘You Are We’ may be Sleeps’ most palatable record yet, they haven’t lost the intensity that made them such an incendiary live experience. ‘Feel’ and ‘Our Legacy’ are imbued with more shrieking from Loz Taylor than on record, making for a far less subdued experience than on record(the latter culminating with the frontman diving from the upstairs standing area) – combined with the band’s ever-improving songwriting, it’s a reminder that the best way to experience WSS up close and personal.
This is best evidenced by main-set closer ‘Silence Speaks’: Oli Sykes might not be present to deliver his lines, but he’s not hugely missed, as everyone in the room is happy to step in at ear-shattering volume. As Loz mentions earlier in the set, this feels far from independent, and as the song reaches its climax on its “the longer I live I learn that we don’t belong…” refrain, this feels like a truly special moment between a band and their fans. (5/5)
Despite the loss in momentum While She Sleeps suffered in the lead up to their second record, ‘Brainwashed’, it’s clear that the choice to go independent was the right move. Media hype or not, those here are utterly dedicated to the band; whether or not they move on to bigger venues is irrelevant when the quality is this high.