Sheffield metalcore mob While She Sleeps take on the music industry on their fifth record, entitled Sleeps Society. The group tackle societal issues and mental health battles as well as providing empowering messages of self-motivation backed by heaving slabs of metallic riffing.
WSS have always felt like a rougher, harsher, more punk alternative to the usual dregs of the bloated metalcore assembly line. This Is The Six and Brainwashed consisted of rapid-fire, neck shattering riffs played with a real snarl and aggression; a perfect blend of metal and hardcore sensibilities. Following releases brought more attention to the band’s more melodious moments- huge gang chanted choruses and infectious guitar lines were given more time in the spotlight, alongside the usual assortment of riffs and beatdowns.
On Sleeps Society the band have certainly attempted to incorporate some more outside influences, whilst not straying too far from the original path. The usual abrasive metalcore sound is still ever-present, however there are also elements of dance, electronic and even piano-led ballads to be found on the group’s latest offering.
When While She Sleeps are at their best there is a real sense of urgency, like the guitars are fighting their way to tear out of the speaker, and despite the overall more melodically focused approach on this offering, there are still passages that tap into that fire. A record highlight is the blood pumping ‘Systematic.’ Opening with a prodigy-esque synth intro, the song quickly dives headfirst into a barrage of bouncy jump along riffs. It’s hard not to see this track becoming a live staple in the foreseeable future, as just listening to it conjures strong images of festival crowds bouncing in perfect synchronicity.
The title track is another good example of what the band are trying to achieve with this record. ‘Sleeps Society’ brings about a real sense of swagger and along with the electronically tinged riffs, there’s a big shout-along chorus to close it out.
‘Division Street’ strips back the bombast of the record’s other tracks, featuring a solo piano and a group vocal. The track’s simplistic approach really benefits the son; it sounds raw and live. Its cavernous roomy echo makes it feel as if you are there with the band themselves; this is something that perfectly encapsulates the ethos of the record itself. With Sleeps Society the band are trying to remove music industry-imposed borders that separate artists and their fans, allowing supporters to feel better connected to the band themselves.
Despite all of the aforementioned forays into different genres there is still an unfortunate feeling of similarity breeding discontent. A lot of the tracks found on Sleeps Society can tend to bleed together; choruses and vocal lines end up sounding a little too familiar and ultimately a large portion of them are quite forgettable.
The track ‘Nervous’ sees the band tackling some important issues surrounding mental health, and very much aims to tick all the boxes of an empowering anthem. The message is important but musically it tends to stray too close to Linkin Park B-sides territory and lacks any real cutting edge or memorability. The guest slot from Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil also feels somewhat wasted, his vocals buried underneath the waves of distortion, not quite providing that standout moment it perhaps could have. Considering this year has also seen Simon Neil lend his vocal cords to another UK metalcore act, appearing on Architect’s track Goliath, with much more success, this was a little bit disappointing.
Album closer, ‘DN3 3HT’, also finds its message lost under a sea of unnecessary distortion. The song features a sparse piano melody alongside thank you messages from each band member. Whilst a nice concept initially, the idea to drench these recordings in distortion is kind of bemusing. Sounding like they were recorded onto a broken answering machine, the heartfelt words lose some of their emotional gravitas, leaving the record to meander off with a song that will not be getting any repeat listens.
Ultimately Sleeps Society adds a few more strings to While She Sleeps’ bow, the continued little experiments hit more times than they miss and there are a few standout tracks ready to go straight into Sleeps’ live arsenal. However, the record does still have its issues and its heavier moments are still more engaging than the sometimes all too familiar melodic choruses. The smatterings of electronic and drum ‘n’ bass elements add great injections of energy and seamlessly blend into the band’s sound without sounding forced. While She Sleeps fans will undoubtedly have another collection of tracks to sink their collective teeth into, however, there may be many left still wanting something more.
UK HEADLINE TOUR:
01 – GLASGOW Stereo – SOLD OUT
02 – GLASGOW Stereo – SOLD OUT
09 – BIRMINGHAM Asylum – SOLD OUT
10 – LEICESTER Academy 2 – SOLD OUT
11 – BRIDGEND Hobos Music Venue – SOLD OUT
12 – BRIDGEND Hobos Music Venue – SOLD OUT
15 – LONDON Underworld
16 – LONDON Underworld – SOLD OUT
17 – LONDON Underworld – SOLD OUT
19 – BRIGHTON Chalk
20 – LEEDS Key Club – SOLD OUT
22 – LEEDS Key Club – SOLD OUT
23 – LEEDS Key Club – SOLD OUT