Ashwin Bhandari is blown away by a night of metal courtesy of Sheffield's While She Sleeps

While She Sleeps

O2 Academy Oxford

April 27, 2017

Fighting against all odds, with problems such as issues with their former record label and frontman Loz Taylor’s vocal chords, While She Sleeps returned to Oxford valiantly.

Before the show, a signing was held for their crowdfunded third album You Are We at the Fopp store in Gloucester Green, with fans eager to meet the Sheffield metalcore giants.

Formed in 2006, ‘Sleeps’ have worked incredibly hard over the past 11 years to earn their places for headline shows, especially before the release of their debut album where, their gruelling hardships were documented in the film 20 Nights Of Sleeps. Now those days are well and truly behind them, with strong support for their mammoth set.

Fizzy Blood’s brand of abrasive retro-rock might be a bit lost in translation for the majority of the metalcore fans in the audience, but this didn’t stop the Leeds quartet from smashing on through their tight set. Frontman Benji Inkley’s deadpan vocals contrasted nicely with the bluesy, furious riffs that often descend into cacophony near the end.

While the usual rousing speeches to get the crowd riled up are met with a lukewarm reception, it’s clear that they care more about having fun on stage than trying to win over a largely uninterested crowd.

Australian tech metal group In Hearts Wake get a bigger reaction. The layered metalcore riffs and heavy bass drops see some much needed push pit action in the middle of the room, with vocalist Jake Taylor commanding the audience at every possible opportunity to ‘get the **** up’. A few crowdsurfers are flung over the barrier, and even relatively unknown material from their upcoming album gets a fond reception.

Running slightly over time but arriving on stage in style, While She Sleeps waste no time, plunging headfirst into the title track You Are We from their new album. It’s an avalanche of energy with no compromises as Loz and co have the room by the finger tips, getting up close and personal when they’re not headbanging on stage.

Someone in the crowd hurts themself and the band have to start again, but its gracious to know they care about the safety of their fans. The personal touch of the lyrics on the material from You Are We never feels lost in translation as fans climb on top of each other but still manage to gasp every word back.

The sludgier riffs on tracks like This Is The Six and anthemic, melodic moments from Seven Hills showcase a real sense of confidence and progression from their previous headline shows, despite no material from The North Stands For Nothing being touched upon. Blasting through 11 tracks, the band return for the ‘lighter in the air’ anthem Four Walls.

Here we can appreciate the sense of community at their shows which very few modern metalcore bands can claim. Ending on Hurricane and bringing on Marcia Richards of The Skints on stage, While She Sleeps marry the ideals of a party band with emotional catharsis all round.