It’s difficult for both a band and the listener to find the perfect match between lyrical content and the overall sound of the music itself. For the group you truly do have to painstakingly attempt to produce the proper tuning for both guitars and bass. Is the choice of chords suited to the emption of the words? You must decide on the rate of speed in which you play. Will the drums be more of a rhythmic backbone, or a ballistic sound off for one to focus on? One could only assume these are simply a few of the criteria that goes into deciding the perfect sound for the perfect song. But almost just as difficult as it is for the artist/band to create this impeccable symbiosis between the written word and its melodic counterpart, is for the listener to make sense of it all in their own head. The general consensus would be that someone singing about the loss of the loved one would couple that with a melancholy sound. An aggressively pissed off person would match their ferocious growls with severely angry sounding tunes. But what about when it comes to politics? Some get quite frustrated on a subject such as this. Some get absolutely furious, while others are perfectly content. To some, they may find it harder to imagine the foolproof pairing of sound and word to go with this particular topic. For some, politics is not something they pay much attention to or are completely aware of all the facts, so when thinking of the music that centers around this they can’t quite seem to imagine the sound. Luckily for even those folks there is a band like While She Sleeps. Politics have been the groups main area of focus over the years, but have always delivered this in a phenomenally accessible way. Ever the evolving band when it came to their sound, they have yet again stomped on new ground with their upcoming album entitled So What?. The subjects of Trump, Brexit, and how the middle and rural class of America can get quite fucked over do come up, but as previously stated these points may not be what you listen to a band like this for. Luckily you don’t have to.
“ANTI-SOCIAL” was the initial single released from So What? and it was done so in a fascinating way. On October 26th, across all of their social media, the band released an image on someone in a white hazmat suit and gas mask. In that person’s hand was a flash drive. This was a clue of sorts and the band stated that there were more drives hidden across England in different locations. Each drive contained a piece of what was to become the full song. This was an incredible creative and hands on way to involve their fanbase with their music. Beginning with the sounds of sirens and dogs barking, a growing surge of guitar rises from the background to a sudden silence. Swiftly the guitar is brought back to a rhythmic, head banging tempo and vocalist Lawrence “Loz” Taylor’s raspy growl. The song definitely seems to be about world leaders and their constant act of attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the people, while they stand to profit from their own bullshit. The song also seems to speak to the fact that so many people though have seemingly accepted their fate yet still bitch about the state of everything that’s going on. If you want change, you have to fight for it. Regardless of being into politics or not, this is a sentiment that most could get behind.
So What? finds While She Sleeps stepping into a more straight forward rock direction without losing that added edge of their core roots. The title track is a perfect example of this. Throughout the record Loz uses much more clean vocals while adding his harsh screams to accentuate certain emotions, points, or heavier moments of any given tune. “SO WHAT?” has a toe tapping tempo from start to finish with moments of hectic rage for good measure. The song seemingly speaks about all that we take for granted. We think we control every aspect of our life. What we think, feel, what we choose to buy, how we choose to interact with others. And yet we’re constantly fighting this invisible enemy which is all of these preconceived notions of control when we actually have so little. From the quickened palm muting of the verses to the more steady and consistent movement of the chorus this song packs that rock’n’roll punch that so many core groups tend to leave out of the mix.
With a haunting set of chanting ‘Oh, Oh, Oh’s’ the intro to “THE GUILTY PARTY” has to be one of the most melodic beginnings to a track in the core world in some time. And once the instruments kick into high gear, the crowd is sure to tear the house down at any venue this track is played. Fast and heavy this song hits you like a freight train straight out of the gate. This surely is one of the heavier tracks on the album, almost more reminiscent of a While She Sleeps of yesteryears. Loz pushes his harsh vocals to the max while each and every instrument is blasted, battered, and boomed to perfectly demonstrate the sheer animosity the group clearly feels in their words. As previously mentioned the group has not forgotten their core roots and once the song finishes and your out of breathe from moshing and breaking shit in your own living room, you’ll realize that’s true.
One of the softer songs on So What? happens to also be it’s most measured and balanced song musically. All instruments are toned down a notch or two from the typically heavy delivery to truly exemplify more of the straight up rock sound the band has decided to push through a bit more on this record. But don’t think for one moment this takes away from the absolutely stunning creativity While She Sleeps has always poured into every single note and moment of each track they’ve ever written. While fairly simplistic and slow in their delivery both guitars have an extremely harmonious and unique sound in the verses which then lead perfectly into the up-tempo and faster paced choruses. Loz delivers his gravely clean sung vocals in a tone which perfectly plays of the cleaner sounding instrumentals. While being a one of the softer songs the group has ever written, it lacks no punch and is still up there with all of their other heavy hitters.
Whether you’re into the world of politics or not, While She Sleeps still shows us that what matters most is the music. Like so many things in life everything has a point, yet to so many that point can be relative and subjective. It’s what we take from it in the end that matters most. Yes, assuredly the band wants their message to be heard and the point to get across and with such heartfelt intensity poured into their lyrics that will never be lost in translation. The group has shown that also they will continue to experiment and evolve their sound. Never wanting to put out the same record twice, yet never wanting to stray to far from where they came While She Sleeps has once again shown the world with So What? that they will always find a healthy balance of both old and new. Whether you love the heavier or softer side of the group, whether you are deep into the world of politics or simply gaze into the smoky window from time to time, this album will have something for all.