A little under two years since the release of their last album ‘You Are We’, While She Sleeps are back with their fourth studio album, So What?
Released on March 1st 2019, So What? is an album about change. Specifically change in While She Sleeps, something the five-piece and their fanbase should be used too. After going it on their own for You Are We and using their fans to fund the release of the album, So What? sees the band team back up with a label (Spinefarm Records UK).
Seemingly aware of a possible fan backlash to this decision the band have done some impressive marketing to ensure fans see they haven’t lost what makes them feel like one of us, a normal every-day bunch of people.
We’re huge fans but haven’t always been sold on what the band have produced. We enjoyed You Are We but didn’t love it unconditionally which you can read about here. The same goes for our varied opinions on the five singles that were released leading up to this album. ANTI-SOCIAL, Haunt Me, The Guilty Party, Elephant and Set You Free.
How does So What? stack up? Well, rest assured that it’s a good album. In fact it’s a very good album but one that is going to take a little time and bedding in to really enjoy. This isn’t the While the Sleeps that made This is the Six. This is a newer, older and wiser entity that has one eye on the future and takes steps to making that the present.
The first single, ANTI-SOCIAL was released 4 months ago and while it took a few plays for us to get on with it, it’s a banger and the opening track on So What? A great choice of an opener as it’s very much a transition song. Plenty of hard-hitting riffs, a touch of aggression and a hefty dollop of political intent.
I’ve Seen It All introduces the elements that long-term While She Sleeps will have the most difficult time getting used too, the electronica. It’s here and present in the background as more of an experiment, the band not all in on that sound yet and the radio-rock rhythm of the track helps simplify things. Palatable whereas Inspire’s electronica really doesn’t sit right, however a more traditional heavy shape-shifter of a metal track with some nice choir vocals helps improve things.
The experimentation is far from over as the title track and The Guilty Party come in quick succession. The former starts off with plenty of promise, a sharp set of vocals and odd guitar whine but settles into fairly run of the mill rock blandness. While the latter is a bit more energetic and finishes in serious style.
One of the more impressive things about So What? is how everything flows and feels like a complete album. The more experimental evolution does gel well with the more traditional grooves, metalcore choruses and twisted riffs for the most part. The triple header of Haunt Me, Elephant and Set You Free shows this balance perfectly. Easily the strongest point of the album as each track has a great blend of classic Sleeps and modern Sleeps.
The final few tracks keeps things fairly strong although Good Grief and Back of My Mind have a few moments that might raise an eyebrow or two. The real strength of the finale lies in Back of My Mind out of control riffs and energetic metalcore flashes but the drum and bass rap combo near the end is god-awful. Jarring and so out of the blue it’s downright annoying.
Thank the gods that it’s not the last thing we hear on So What? Instead we end on the banger that is Gates of Paradise. As classic Sleeps as you’re going to get on this album, the buzz of the riffs and hardcore vocals really excelling.
This is a transitional album, that much is clear. You can hear the obvious steps that While She Sleeps are taking to get to their future but they’re not all in on it yet. A smart decision as the fanbase are going to have to acclimatise to these changes. I can see many a fan having a hard time getting into this especially if they were hoping for more of a This is the Six/Brainwashed kind of release. However, regardless of its faults and there are some, So What? is an impressive release and proof that While She Sleeps aren’t afraid to adapt and move with the times.
While She Sleeps – So What? Full Track Listing:
2. I’ve Seen It All
4. So What?
5. The Guilty Party
6. Haunt Me
8. Set You Free
9. Good Grief
10. Back of My Mind
11. Gates of Paradise
You can grab the album now on all the usual streaming platforms, like Apple Music and Spotify now. Order your copy of So What? at the band’s website here. Keep up to date with information on the band and the new album at their website, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
While She Sleeps - So What? (Spinefarm Records UK)
The Final Score - 7.5/10