Looking back two years, Steel City’s While She Sleeps were one of Britain’s major success stories. The release of their debut album, This Is The Six, set the wheels in motion and for a long, long period, they appeared unstoppable. Sadly, though, they were; the need for urgent throat surgery put vocalist, Loz Taylor – and subsequently, the whole band – out of action for well over a year. Yet, remarkably, they were never forgotten. The WSS emblem remained a regular sighting, stuck on lampposts and printed on t-shirts, up-and-down the country. So, the imminent release of their sophomore album, Brainwashed, technically marks their “return”, but it doesn’t feel like it – they remained one of Britain’s major success stories, and this record serves to remind us why.
Throughout, Brainwashed is undeniably Sleeps. ‘New World Torture‘ instantly makes up for lost time, while the title track chucks in some electrifying tempo. Everything, from the ferocious verses to the bruising breakdowns, is so naturally heavy, and is exactly what is expected of them. It has to be noted that Taylor shows no ill effects post-op, and that is key to their revival. Their hiatus was forced and grossly unwanted, but the “time off” has been spent recovering together; it only takes one listen of ‘Our Legacy‘ to feel their desire burning.
While She Sleeps do not simply pick up where they left off, though. ‘Torment‘ is their darkest, most unsettling track so far, yet there’s even a potentially radio-bound number in ‘No Sides No Enemies‘ with its catchy riffs and gritty chant-a-longs. Each track has their signature sound embedded in its core, but the record is far from a remake of the hugely successful debut.
Brainwashed is the product of anger and frustration directed towards a number of personal and political topics, and it is all the better for it. While She Sleeps can now press on and regain their status as one of Britain’s prestigious exports – not that they ever lost it, mind you.