While She Sleeps - This Is The Six
Record Label: The End Records (US), Sony Music Entertainment (UK)
Release Date: November 6, 2012 (NA)
One question that is applicable to every band out there is one of the most important ones they’ll ever face; when will they be ready to release a debut LP? And I don’t mean “when will it be best for them?” because that’s pretty much the same for every band; there’s always one specific time frame that, if followed, will give a band the maximum exposure. As far as being ready for said release, though, that is a much more important question that needs to be assessed and worked on as soon as possible. A band can’t release four songs of solid material drowned out by six filler tracks when making such an important first impression. A first release really can make or break a band, so when UK metalcore outfit While She Sleeps decided to break away from EPs and put out 2012’s This Is The Six, I had to ask myself; were they ready for that?
I’m still having a hard time answering that question.
The main problem here lies within the gap between the quality of some of the songs on this album. It’s not so much that the worse songs are particularly bad, it’s just that the best songs on the album are so considerably better that it left me unable to truly enjoy the others. I mean I liked a part here and there, but as a cohesive and structured song, some tracks just fell short. That’s probably the biggest noticeable issue here.
Take three songs from the middle of the album: title track “This is the Six,” “Be(lie)ve,” and “Until the Death.” Aside from an interlude track between the first two called “The Chapel,” these songs show a regression towards the second half of this record and just how disjointed things can get. The title track is absolutely killer. It's a top notch display of quality metalcore that balances just the right amount of melody with plenty of in-your-face hardcore and a steady balance of good riff writing, structure, and musicianship throughout. The vocal teamwork of Lawrence Taylor and Mat Welsh both shouting aggressively as the chorus comes around is unlike anything I've heard before. Taylor lays down his most gritty growls as Welsh provides the cleans, which are almost as edgy and rough as the screams, on top of that. This technique is used a few times on the CD and it's a really interesting and pleasant change of pace.
Unfortunately, after that brilliant song leaves you wanting even more, you're left with, after a short interlude, two less than ideal tracks. As I said before, they aren't particularly bad. Nothing on this album really is, but they just don't hold a candle to what you're expecting after a fantastic six songs passes you by. Even the song after that, "Love at War" is a bit lackluster. That and the few songs before it have a well written riff here and there, a nice, heavy breakdown to draw attention, but the average and forgettable parts in between make the song a whole more or less just as forgettable. The next track "Plague of a New Age" does a lot to bring the familiar strength from the beginning back around, but as the album closes out, the minute and a half long "Reunite" does nothing to maintain that strength, giving nothing but a repetitive low group chant over some piano.
I don't want this to sound too negative, though, because I think this album is very good. The first six tracks in particular are very strong, showcasing a good balance of melodic guitar lines, some of the most aggressive and powerful vocals, and thrashy and pounding drums that are always working to keep things interesting. So here's what I recommend. Take a look at that RIYL down there. If you love one or more of those bands, definitely check out the full album. But if you're not the biggest fan of those bands, but you still like hardcore music, check out the first six songs on This Is The Six, maybe even "Plague of a New Age" as well, because those are some well written, choice metalcore songs that no fan of the genre can deny the quality of. And to go back to my initial question, I'd say that While She Sleeps was indeed ready when they released This Is The Six. It's a solid album in every meaning of the word, but there's definitely underutilized potential within these guys that can be used to put out a groundbreaking sophomore effort that changes the face of the band, maybe even the genre. All they have to do is pick up where they left off here.