Sound — 9
"This Is The Six" was recorded mostly at Treehouse Studios in Chesterfield, except for the drums which were recorded at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire. This album is the band's first in a professional studio, and this is shown with the overall sound. "The North Stands For Nothing" was recorded in a barn and mastered by Mat Welsh, the rhythm guitarist, and that is obvious in places where the sound isn't always quite right. "This Is The Six", in contrast, has a very sharp sound. Production is very tight and the mixing is good, the levels at which the instruments are heard is about right. The guitar parts have subtle effects to enhance the melody that Sean Long brings in his lead playing, and the piano parts are subtly mixed in. It's heavier than "The North Stands For Nothing". Here, the guitars are in Drop C, a step down from the previously used Drop C#. The songs are on the whole, excellent. First single "Dead Behind The Eyes" was first played on the radio in early April 2012 - I remember listening to it and being blown away. It's an aggressive stomp of a track. It is powerful and really anthemic, Loz Taylor's vocals are almost like Oli Sykes but a hell of a less lot annoying! It's an angry shout but the screams in this song sound like he actually trains his voice, and it works with the nature of the song. This features Andrew Neufeld of Comeback Kid on guest vocals. The breakdowns and intense riffing is what makes the song. "False Freedom" is almost as good as "Dead Behind The Eyes". A sharp, melodic lead guitar line opens the song after a buzz of feedback, and the pure speed and rage carries the song through to the breakdown and finally the epic ending. This is the first time you get to hear Sean Long's ear for melody on the guitar on this album, really. Seven Hills is my favourite song on this CD. It begins with another melodic guitar line which is then followed by a ridiculously fast speed that you don't expect. The drumming is extremely tight - on this track in particular, but also on the whole album - and this song includes some singing in the chorus and outro. It's a real anthem, and effectively combines heaviness with melody. "Our Courage, Our Cancer" begins with a 20-30 second piano intro before launching into a very powerful hardcore song with more melodic guitar lines and a great solo. The piano parts are subtle and add texture to the song, and the light/dark contrasts that are part of this album are characteristic to this song in particular. However, in some ways, the piano parts almost make the song downbeat, although it is a highlight of the album. "This Is The Six", the title track, is very heavy and fast, and another real Sleeps anthem. It's as good hardcore as you'll get in 2012, and the 'ooohhh's at the end send chills down your spine. A reworking of "Be(lie)ve" begins the second half of the album which isn't as good as the first. With the notable exception of the fantastic "Love At War"; "Until The Death" and "The Plague Of A New Age" don't hit the highs of the first six or so songs. Without the anthemic vibes or the piano subtlety, they fall slightly into generic sounding metal/hardcore. But I'm being harsh; they would still highlight most albums of this sound. The album closes almost on downer with "Reunite", a piano led outro. It's effective. To be honest, While She Sleeps are doing nothing new here. But what they do do is stand out from the crowd of genericore idiots like Asking Alexandria and them lot. The heavy bits are heavy. The aggressive bits are aggressive. The fast bits are fast. The melodic bits are melodic. There's nothing really too generic. There's so much boring, generic, or just a bit crap, -core music out there, but with what I've described, While She Sleeps make their mark out. It builds from their EP with a more progressive edge and more memorable songs. In all, they've done good. Very good.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics to "This Is The Six" are excellent; Loz Taylor sings (sings? Screams? Shouts?) about things that matter to him. None of this 'f--k you a--hole' or lost girlfriend business. How about respect for war heroes, unity, atheism, troubles with our generation for the punters out there? Give the lyrics a read sometimes. Loz's passion for what he's ranting about comes through with his angry vocals, and although arguably you could say, 'why not sing about these tender subjects?', he's talking about something different here than what most 'angry' music deals with. Take your pick from: "I know, there's people in the places I've been, who I know, I'll never find again." "They gave their selves to the streets, they saved. They took the challenge to keep our faith." "The river runs red, it's black at the bottom and there we know nothing, where the souls of the forgotten are resting in need, but the human race and the fate on which they prey are dying today". I know. His vocals aren't world class screaming in terms of quality, but it does the job. He's passionate enough about his lyrics to get the message across. This is real.
Overall Impression — 9
Take any hardcore band or metalcore band and throw them out the window, these guys is where it's at. I prefer this to "The North Stands For Nothing" due to the crisper sound, better songs overall, and the fact that everything good on that EP was just totally expanded on. My favourite songs on this album are "Seven Hills", "False Freedom" and "Dead Behind The Eyes". With special mentions to "This Is The Six", "Love At War" and "Our Courage, Our Cancer". Sean Long's melodic guitar playing is a truly brilliant and the band should use this in future to construct further world class hardcore anthems such as the ones on here! I can't wait to hear what they come up with next and if you get a chance to see them live, DO. If I had to point out negatives, it would be how the album slightly drops off at the end. The quality of the album is just so good compared to other bands who look weak in comparison. I would buy this album again if it was lost. You should, too.