Who knew this pandemic would produce such great rock and metal music? With Chart topping albums from Biff Clyro, Bring Me The Horizon, You Me At Six, Architects and YUNGBLUD, the UK rock and metal scene has a surprisingly strong pulse that’s putting the world to rights throughout this pandemic. One such UK band that’s doing their bit for the alternative community is Sheffield’s own While She Sleeps. Unsatisfied with how the music industry operates, the band launched Sleeps Society, a Patreon bases subscription service, which seeks to connect the band with their fans more directly in anticipation of their new album of the same name.
The album opens in typical While She Sleeps fashion with ‘Enlightenment(?)’. The song builds anticipation and excitement for Sleeps Society through its use of horns and singular guitar melody over a distorted speech, before swiftly exploding into life in true While She Sleeps style. Enlightenment(?) starts Sleeps Society off to a strong start that perfectly builds excitement for the music to come both on the album and most likely in the post pandemic concerts also.
Keeping the energy up is the incredible single ‘You Are All You Need’. This bouncy track is as heavy as it is catchy and is, not only the best song on Sleeps Society, but is also one of the best songs While She Sleeps have ever written. This will be a new favourite for While She Sleeps fans, as well as, as setlist main stay for years to come. See you in the mosh pits for this one, if you dare…
Opening with a raw synth and a fast paced almost rap like lyrical delivery, ‘Systematic’ sees While She Sleeps experiment musically without leaving their conventionally heavy sound behind. Still as explosive and high octane as ever and reminiscent of Bring Me The Horizon’s song ‘Anthem’, ‘Systematic’ is a winning exploration of sound that results in a heavy metal song for the modern age.
Following on is the single ‘Nervous’ featuring Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro. Opening with a haunting piano before bursting into a flurry of heavy guitars, drums and chanting vocals, ‘Nervous’ is an epic metal anthem that delivers everything you would expect of a While She Sleeps single, even if Simon Neil is incredibly underutilised. Although ‘Nervous’ is about as good as ‘Goliath’, Simon Neil’s collaboration with Architects, I only wish While She Sleeps had put Neil to as good a use.
The Interlude ‘PYAI’ follows on with its raw distorted synth. I honestly don’t understand interludes; nonetheless, ‘PYAI’ creates a haunting tone that demonstrates the bands musical versatility beyond full throttle heavy metal anthems.
Next up is another bouncy metal anthem with ‘Know Your Worth (Somebody)’. Boasting a catchy chorus with empowering lyrics to chat along to, ‘Know Your Worth (Somebody)’, sends a positive message to its fans in the form of a metal anthem they can mosh along to. About midway through the song, While She Sleeps attempt to dial things back a bit and experiment instrumentally, before ending on a conventionally heavy note. This instrumental versatility really helps ‘Know Your Worth (Somebody)’ stand out and not feel stale due to the majority of their musical catalogue consisting of full throttle heavy metal anthems.
The collaborations keep coming as next up is ‘No Defeat For The Brave’ featuring Sum 41’s frontman, Deryck Whibley. Kicking things off in typically full throttle fashion, ‘No Defeat For The Brave’ is yet another While She Sleeps heavy metal anthem, however this time, unlike ‘Nervous’, the band actually utilise Deryck Whibley rather effectively, allowing him to sing most of the softer vocals, whilst leaving the heavier stuff to frontman, Loz Taylor. Although not the strongest track on the album, ‘No Defeat For The Brave’ does feature the albums best breakdown, and with Slamdunk scheduled for September, maybe this song will be performed live with Deryck Whibley? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Continuing on with their exploration with sound, While She Sleeps have written a ballad with ‘Division Street’. With a rich echo, the song is a decent if dreary attempt at a ballad, but the band doesn’t have the vocal ability to pull it off. I appreciate their attempt to branch out and try new things musically, but this ballad has proven too far out of their wheelhouse to work effectively.
Kicking things back up to 11 with its raw synth is the lead single and title track ‘Sleeps Society’. Similar to ‘Systematic’, ‘Sleeps Society’ demonstrates a modernization from While She Sleep’s usual instrumental sound, whilst maintaining the same explosive energy that makes While She Sleeps such an exciting band to listen to. This title track fittingly encapsulates the entire album as a whole; it’s loud and energetic in a familiar way, but most importantly, it’s fresh as it finds the band at their most musically versatile to date.
Marking the penultimate song of Sleeps Society is ‘Call Of The Void’ which states that it features Sleeps Society, which leaves me asking ‘what exactly is Sleeps Society?’ The song opens with an unconventionally soft piano and guitar and then leads into some surprisingly good guest vocals… So is Sleeps Society a band or fans While She Sleeps invited to sing on this song? Regardless of this unexplained mystery, ‘Call Of The Void’ finds While She Sleeps performing a much more palatable metal song, similar to Architects with their ‘For Those Who Wish To Exist’ album. Although confusingly labelled, ‘Call of The Void’ features a softer sound and surprisingly strong guest vocal that brings Sleeps Society to a satisfying end… Or at least it would have.
Similar to Architects with ‘For Those Who Wish To Exist’, While She Sleeps seem to miss a perfect ending by choosing something more experimental, however unlike Architects, this doesn’t pay off for While She Sleeps. ‘DN3 3HT’ brings Sleeps Society to a heartfelt but woefully confused close. This 7 minute long track isn’t a song; instead it’s a thank you message to fans over a repetitive piano tune. The sentiment behind this is nice; however the audio is heavily distorted as if recorded via a walkie talkie in the mid 90’s. This distortion is a massive mistake and a huge barrier in the way of their heartfelt message to fans. ‘DN3 3NT’ is the very definition of style taking away from substance. 7 minute songs are daunting enough, but pretty much no one will sit through what is essentially a 7 minute interlude with borderline inaudible dialogue, which is a shame as each band member pours their heart out to the fans.
Overall, Sleeps Society finds While She Sleeps at their most experimental for better and for worse. While She Sleeps underused Simon Neil on ‘Nervous’ and made several lacklustre and/or confusing decisions in the albums second half, on the other hand, they did put Deryck Whibley to good use on ‘No Defeat For The Brave’ and experimented beautifully on such tracks as ‘Systematic’ and ‘Sleeps Society’. Although this album doesn’t reach the heights of While She Sleep’s best album, ‘You Are We’, however, boasting such songs as ‘You Are All You Need’, Sleeps Society looks to be the beginning of a new era for metal music and I can’t wait to see where it leads.
Sleeps Society is OUT TOMORROW to buy and stream and tickets for their UK Tour are available NOW