LOUDER REVIEWS:'Sleeps Society' - While She Sleeps
Are While She Sleeps the most hardworking band in music today? Almost exactly two years after their most successful album to date, 2019’s 'So What?' that elevated the band to Brixton Academy headliners, the Sheffield quintet are back with yet another offering in Sleeps Society. Titled after their Patreon community of the same name, the band complete their journey to becoming fully fan-supported, a road that started on 2017’s crowdfunded You Are We. The album is a love letter to their fans, but also explores deep topics such as mental health, with opening track 'ENLIGHTENMENT’S chorus stating “It’s ok to not be ok,” and 'NERVOUS' which explores the impact of anxiety.
Musically this isn’t any sort of wild deviation from their previous records, and the clear evolution from 2012’s debut full length 'This Is The Six' to 'So What?' continues here, with the band delving even deeper with their use of electronic elements and synths to create atmosphere around songs. Interestingly, this album was originally supposed to contain a contribution from The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett, but in the end Sleeps began making their own electronics with analogue synths. This DIY spirit has propelled the band from their very earliest days, and despite the addition of more electronics, this still feels like a Sleeps record, with catchy choruses and some incredible breakdowns.
The variation on this record is fantastic, from acoustic piano driven ballads, 'DIVISION STREET', to a nu-metal inspired banger in 'SYSTEMATIC'. Frontman Loz Taylor is as antagonistic as ever, and it is great to hear him back on top form after some vocal issues in 2019, whilst guitarist Mat Welsh’s clean vocals provide the perfect foil, especially with some of those massive singalongs in tracks like 'NERVOUS'. Of course, it’s impossible to talk about this album without mentioning the two huge guest spots, with Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro following up his appearance on Architects’ last record with a fantastic contribution to 'NERVOUS', with a goosebump-inducing moment when those dulcet Scottish tones ring out for the first time. Sleeps have also recruited Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley for a spot on 'NO DEFEAT FOR THE BRAVE', and his vocals intersperse fantastically with Loz and Mat’s. There is also a contribution from the Patreon Sleeps Society with gang vocals on 'CALL OF THE VOID', the last proper song on the record, which really highlights the dedication that While She Sleeps have for their fans: this album is for them.
The band expand on that in a much more emotional way, with each member taking the time on 'DN3 3HT' to speak directly to their fans about how much their support means to them, and whilst this isn’t a song as such, and arguably is the most skippable part on the record, it still really speaks to Sleeps’ soul that they would take time out of their album to highlight the fan contributions. It does disrupt the flow of the album somewhat, but it is clear that Sleeps found it essential to have each member speak from the heart.
While She Sleeps have always been one of the most important bands in the metal scene fighting for fan power over big labels, and 'Sleeps Society' is their love letter to their fans for their support over the past 14 years. This is a band who have never abandoned their principles, and their love for both the music and their fans has never been more obvious than on this record. Long live While She Sleeps!
'Sleeps Society' is out this Friday, the 16th of March via Search & Destroy / Spinefarm - pre-order the record here:
Check out the video for the title track, 'Sleeps Society', below: