Album Review – You Are We by While She Sleeps (Self Released)

After much fanfare and a decent amount of well deserved hype, the new While She Sleeps album has finally been released in full today, the 21st of April. That album, You Are We, marks a huge achievement and an important milestone for the band.

The decision to break away from labels and go independent may have been seen as brave but the band will be proud to see now that it was the right call for them. A Pledge Music campaign easily exceeded the band’s required target. That was thanks to solid marketing, a brilliant selection of items to purchase and a dedicated fan base. Those fans, of which we at GBHBL are proud to include ourselves, exist because of the quality music that While She Sleeps release.

You Are We

They have earned their fan base through hard work, honesty and most importantly, consistently brilliant heavy metal.

Before today we had already had 5 singles released from You Are We and all 5 are great. You can read more about those by clicking on these links. Civil Isolation, Hurricane, You Are We single, Silence Speaks featuring Oli Sykes and Feel. If you want to read our thoughts on their previous full album releases, click on these – This is the Six and Brainwashed.

While She Sleeps consists of Lawrence Taylor (Loz) on vocals. Guitars come from Sean Long on lead and Mat Welsh on rhythm. Aaron McKenzie looks after the bass and Adam Savage is the drummer. All band members also add backing vocals which is one of While She Sleeps most unique skills.  The harmonising and mix of vocal tones used on songs is brilliant, often elevating good songs to great through vocals alone.

On to the album then, You Are We.

You Are We

Despite having already heard 5 tracks, there are plenty more new ones to get stuck into thankfully. You Are We has 11 tracks on it and comes in at around 51 minutes long.

To be quite frank, it is a very good album. That is about all you need to know so get out there, buy this album, see how good this band are and support them by going to their shows, buying their merch and spreading the word.

Still, this is a review so let me elaborate. On the face of it, You Are We is certainly not the heaviest album While She Sleeps have ever released. The once backing vocalists of Sean and Aaron, in particular, are now fully fledged vocalists on many songs and in many sections. While She Sleeps have been very open about wanting to progress their sound. They have chosen to do that by adding more melody, more harmonising and by pushing the cleaner vocals to the forefront to work alongside Loz. Sometimes, above him.

Was that the right move? Well, I think that may split a few people. I am not so sure personally. The thing is Loz has a fantastic voice. He really does throw out so much power and aggression and I can’t imagine anyone is chuffed to have less of him. Despite how good the other guys are.

You Are We

While that is a complaint, in context, this album is very, very good. Is it as good as This is the Six or Brainwashed? In my opinion, no. It isn’t. Now the bar with these albums was set ridiculously high so again, context, You Are We is great and a real success for the band. It is an album I will be listening too loads over the rest of this year and I am genuinely proud of the whole Sleeps family for their achievement.

Some of the songs on this album are up there with the best they have ever written. I adore the furiously fast Civil Isolation and You Are We, the title track, is one of their most powerful and emotional songs yet. As an album opener, it is perfection and utilises the older formula of Loz’s power being backed by glorious harmonising.

Silence Speaks has grown on me to become one of my absolute favourites too. I adore the clever lyrics and the heavy breakdowns shake you to the core. I don’t really see the need for Oli Sykes but that is because I think Loz has a much better and stronger voice. He is fine though, and doesn’t detract from the song, just seems unnecessary other than to add a name.

Hurricane is catchy and Feel, while my least favourite single is a grower and one I came to like a lot after not being too sure on the first listen. Away from the singles and there are some more brilliant tracks happening.

You Are We

Unfortunately I don’t think any of the other tracks on the album quite hit the heights of the first few singles, well, maybe one or two do.

Revolt is one – a fast and furious rolling thunder of a track with blistering drums and Loz in fine voice. The riffs are huge and the lyrics are relatable and important. It’s a great song that should tear up the live crowd.

The intro to Steal the Sun is perfect with Loz roaring and backing from the rest of the band. Gang vocals over a heavy breakdown are brilliant. A softer melodic section follows. This threw me a bit as it was unexpected but it is still very neat and listenable. The heavy sections are awesome. The song ends on a cool breakdown too but some of the softer sections are so clean they seem a bit of a jump from the surrounding heaviness.

Empire of Silence has a great rhythm to it. There is a real infectious groove along with a well sung verse that I could, and will, listen to for days. Again it very suddenly switches to a very soft verse. It is well sung, well played and generally nice but does have the feel of an indie/rock song. A great chorus, where the music picks up again, comes in with a great line. “We are building walls where there should have been bridges”. What a great lyric that is.

Yet another soft starter comes in Wide Awake with an acoustic intro and clean singing though this song builds and builds into a crescendo of crushing metal. The drumming is great and Loz is furious but just as it is about to explode, it drops annoyingly back into the soft section. It is another great song though, a little unexpected in the switches, but very well written.

Settle Down Society again doesn’t utilise Loz’s power enough for me – lots of fast but clean sung sections all sound good. Catchy hooks and great gang vocals mix with a bassy riff and high pitched lead guitar. I love it but can’t help waiting for Loz to unleash and he doesn’t until near the end. When he does, it elevates this song dramatically.

You Are We

The album closer In Another Now, much like the album opener, is one of the best songs on the album. A gentle guitar intro with Loz roaring over it sounds brilliant and welcome. A powerful riff and booming drum beat build into a faster, really heavy verse. Loz is spitting out lyrics furiously and the chorus has him shouting along with the backing vocals. A very short soft line leads into an emotional bridge with a really cool guitar line. This song is so good and so heavy, it is up there with the best they have ever written.

Genuinely there are so many positives on this album, it seems unfair to criticise anything. I will though. As mentioned earlier, for me, there are too many songs on this album where Loz doesn’t seem to be used at full volume. He is far too good a vocalist to not be front and center of every track. That is not a dig at anyone else in the band as they are all excellent singers and musicians. I just would have liked more Loz. I would also have liked a track or two to just explode like Revolt and Civil Isolation does. There are a few tracks where it builds and builds but then drops back to clean.

Don’t get me wrong, even those tracks are good. Just once or twice though I would have loved for them to let loose and tear us all a new one.

Despite those small criticisms, I do think this album is going to be one of the best of this year. This band have come on leaps and bounds and the world need to take note. These are the festival headliners of the future. I love so much about this album and even really like the bits I am a bit more critical of. It’s just that this band are so good, it’s hard to imagine or hear anything other than absolute perfection.

Well, I am of off to listen to it again now and remember You Are We.

You can still visit the pledge campaign to order the new album and pick up some awesome merchandise. Check out While She Sleeps on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and be sure to like and follow their pages.

Have a look at our article here regarding While She Sleeps Tour dates in support of You Are We in the UK to pick up tickets.

You Are We
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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