Review: “Sleeps Society” by While She Sleeps

It seems like it has been being hyped forever all over the interweb but the fifth studio album “Sleeps Society” from Sheffield Metalcore outfit While She Sleeps is finally upon us and after the brilliance of 2017’s “You Are We“, the curve ball of 2019’s “So What?” makes this one something of an intriguing prospect. After the cinematic video for the album title track, the announcement of the album came alongside the launch of a fan-oriented Patreon platform of the same name towards the end of 2021; the idea being that fans would be able to donate funds to the band in exchange for getting up close and personal with a hugely diverse range of interactive content. As a concept that has been something we have seen from other bands and solo projects elsewhere, While She Sleeps interpretation has taken it far further than most in a bid to continue to operate as independently as possible while inking a deal with Spinefarm records imprint Search & Destroy for the album release.

Nailing our colours firmly to the mast during our review of the bands last album “So What?” we commented that While She Sleeps large experimentation with electronics ended up being a hit an miss and detracting for it overall and when “Enlightenment(?)” kicks in it seems that the quintet have stripped some of that back. A largely return to roots sound loaded with that famous Sheffield grit, aside from an ambient passage in the final third, the opening cut is loaded with slick riffs and leads from Sean Long and Mat Welsh. The urgency of “You Are All You Need” is like pouring petrol on a bonfire and creates a classic Metalcore cut that captures the bands live energy to give us lightning in a bottle while the progressive ambient section will no doubt make for a sing-a-long live. The first track to make more use of the electronics is “Systematic” which comes over like a Crystal Lake track remixed in a late 90’s style, full of furious fire and brimstone from Lawrence Taylor that does everything the right way and sounds huge as a result. Listening to it gives you the thrill of an instant scratch card lottery win, it’s that good but as you step back from the album as a whole you come to realize that this record is collection of anthemic songs rather than having an an album flow; the energy and momentum built by the initial three cuts is broken by single “Nervous“. That might sound like an odd statement to those who have heard the single as a standalone piece but as good as the aching piano and backing vocals from Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro are by the time powerhouse mid-section breakdown hits, it has sucked the energy back out of the album. As a cut it would have made for a great record closer; it simply doesn’t fit so early on. “PYAI” follows that trend as a mid-album piece of ambient electronica with piano accompaniment, it acts as a pallet cleanser that gives the record a soft middle of mournful melancholic notes that would have been better placed elsewhere, perhaps as the lead into “Nervous” as the prelude to a final cut. That’s not to detract from either cuts quality, they both have plenty to offer, it’s just that the jigsaw doesn’t quite fit…

…and that is something that is hammered home by the brutal Metalcore number “Know Your Worth (Somebody)” which is a serious stand out cut with rhythm section Adam Savage and Aaran Mckenzie giving a hell for leather approach and some pulverizing groove. The album has a distinct formula; the heavier cuts all have an ambient section with clean vocals and the melodic ones have a heavier section with unclean vocals and breakdowns. Perhaps that’s something that was unintentional, perhaps it was something that is behind the concept of the record as a whole, but it is interwoven into all the songs here and it can be a mixed blessing. It works on arena cigarette lighter waving anthem “Nervous” but not so much on this one. Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 is probably the last guest we would have expected on a While She Sleeps album but on “No Defeat For The Brave” it works incredibly well as the cut acts as a driving anthem that is a real punch in the face with all the riffs and attitude that you could possibly want. The ache of “Division Street“, a piano and group vocal will make for an hair raising on the back of your neck experience if the band can get an arena of fans to sing along with them while on the record it serves to cleans the pallet once more for the album title track. More fretboard finger blistering riffs and 90’s electronics moments provide for a raucous number that takes a leaf from the book of Crossfaith; the change up from more personal lyrics to more socially and politically aware ones makes for a nice contrast. “Call Of The Void” is strangely reminiscent of “My Rosary” by Phinehas while its build up to a heavier close is a highly impressive piece of work and then there is “DN3 3HT“. Not a song as such, but a piece which sees each member of the band talk about the bands legacy, how the fans are part of the band and how they love what they are doing; that life is too short and certain things are precious [7.5/10]

Track listing

1. Enlightenment(?)
2. You Are All You Need
3. Systematic
4. Nervous (ft. Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro)
6. Know Your Worth (Somebody)
7. No Defeat For The Brave (ft. Deryck Whibley of Sum 41)
8. Division Street
9. Sleeps Society
10. Call Of The Void (ft. Sleeps Society)
11. DN3 3HT

Sleeps Society” by While She Sleeps is out 16th April via Seek & Destroy / Spinefarm Records

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