Sheffield, UK based metalcore band While She Sleeps return with their most important album to date. Entitled Sleeps Society, it is out now via the band’s own label Sleeps Brothers. In collaboration with Search and Destroy Records, Spinefarm Records, UNFD and Universal Music.
After exploding on to the scene with their killer debut album, This is the Six back in 2012, there’s an argument to be had in regards to if Sleeps have ever been able to reach the heady heights of that debut since. We know, it’s what started our love affair with them.
The follow-up was entitled Brainwashed and was released in 2015 to massive fanfare and showcased a more ‘grown-up’ sound while still be undeniably furious. It was another great release from the band and it seemed like the world was their’s for the taking. Alas, vocal issues with singer Lawerence ‘Loz’ Taylor set them back a bit. Having to cancel tours so he could get surgery and forcing a different direction going forward. Something that would be a bit more obvious on the next album, You Are We. A great, just not amazing release.
It was the start of While She Sleeps turning their back on the industry and attempting to make it with direct fan backing rather than labels. It was risky but it paid off to some degree. Even this new album is named after the Patreon supporters club. While She Sleeps have always been about doing things differently and that was never more clear than on 2019’s So What? An album that saw the band experiment to a level fans had never seen before. Heavy on the effects, industrial beats, poppier electronics and even rap vocals, it was still While She Sleeps but not quite as we knew them.
The hardcore fan base might not have been in love with the album but it garnered them an even bigger following as it was on this album tour that we saw them headline the Roundhouse in London. A phenomenal achievement and they would later go on to headline Brixton Academy too.
Which brings us to this, and in our eyes, their most important album to date. Why? Because it signifies the future of this band’s sound. Something that was muddled on So What? lacking the finesse to nail exactly what they were going for. Sleeps Society needs to be clear, especially as the band are soon to hit the 10-year anniversary of their seminal debut album.
So the question is now… have While She Sleeps silenced the doubters?
Let’s get this out of the way at the start. If you hated So What? you’re not going to love Sleeps Society. This fifth album is the evolution of that album’s direction changes. A modern metalcore album laden with massive riffs and hooks, tons of effects, mellow and thoughtful moments, clean singing and plenty of smash-mouth heaviness.
Whereas, on So What?, the electronica and effects were forced and unnecessary at times, on Sleeps Society, the guys have absolutely nailed it for the most part. This is a vast improvement on the previous release. On first listening you might wonder just what a person who has only heard This is the Six would think upon hearing this album. However, this is undoubtedly While She Sleeps. The lyrical content and song topics alone should make that clear.
Kicking off with possibly the best opener they’ve done since This is the Six. Called Enlightenment (?), the frantic computerised voices and synth kicks into a really familiar Sleeps riff and blasting drum beat. A strong chorus, the blend of throaty screams and clean singing is memorable but most of all, it just makes you want to jump into a pit. Especially when the breakdown comes.
Straight into You Are All You Need, this is a bit of a nod to the Sleeps of old as it is pure chaos. Some of the band’s heaviest riffs and Loz is absolutely killing it on the vocals. The effects are subtle here and layered amongst the raging message perfectly, at least until a midpoint drop which is designed for one thing only… to bring everything back up with a bang. This moment and the song overall is going to be stunning live.
Who said While She Sleeps weren’t a metal band anymore? Those first two tracks would like a word. As would Systematic, where nu-metal effects and a whispered rap intro would be a surprise if it wasn’t for the fact that Sleeps are always surprising. Both elements will come back in the song but with such savage power and such a sense of danger, it’s hard to not love it.
Nervous is the first real taste of a more clean and melancholic sound. It features Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro but is most notable for the disconsolate keyboard melody. The same emotive taste is what gives PYAI depth, a short interlude that has a spacey feel to things.
Before it’s back to punchy riffing and some of the best hooks on the album with Know Your Worth (Somebody). A passionate display from a band that oozes passion and sincerity. It’s why we love them. Although, it’s still as exciting as ever to see them experiment even more with No Defeat for the Brave and Division Street.
The former features Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley, which is a team up that you’d never imagine happening a decade ago, but is also one that works so damn well too. The latter is a thought-provoking combination of harmonised vocals and piano. A welcome return as a piano had been sorely missing in modern While She Sleeps music.
A pick me up is needed after that and what a pick me up it is. The title track is an absolute rager, While She Sleeps at their most fiery. This is a track that needs to be heard live as it is going to absolutely slay. The scream of “sleeps society” followed by the eruption of instruments is While She Sleeps at their best.
The end is in sight sadly as it comes to a close with Call of the Void and DN3 3HT. The former is one of the cleanest efforts the band has done. With a smooth shine that makes it sound grander and a chorus that is one hell of a sing along. Whereas the latter is the sort of finale that only a band with such a beloved fan base could get away with.
Over 7 minutes of mellow piano playing and the band speaking messages of thanks to their fans. Their voices distorted and crackling, it really should be cheesy and forced but it’s actually incredibly heart-felt. A fitting end to an album that feels like the moment While She Sleeps have proven they’re here to stay and world domination is a very real possibility.
We’re proud of you. Sleeps Society is a triumph.
While She Sleeps – Sleeps Society Full Track Listing:
1. Enlightenment (?)
2. You Are All You Need
4. Nervous (feat. Simon Neil)
6. Know Your Worth (Somebody)
7. No Defeat for the Brave (feat. Deryck Whibley)
8. Division Street
9. Sleeps Society
10. Call of the Void (feat. Sleeps Society)
11. DN3 3HT
While She Sleeps - Sleeps Society (Sleeps Brothers)
The Final Score - 9/10