Reviewed by Mark McConville
Railing against the status quo takes confidence and unflinching determination. Wearing a badge and commanding a roaring pack of fans who want nothing but the world to experience what they have is a monumental feat. Sheffield-based metal-core band While She Sleeps trigger inner belief through their album Sleeps Society, and with the backing of thousands of people, they try to nullify the noise that generates throughout an industry that has its share of flaws and toxicity.
The album is not only a catalyst for the disenchanted but also an anchor for the people who feel torn between love and pain, who feel the world weighing on their shoulders. Fans of this particular style of music often have to endure beratement and prejudice at the hands of music snobs and the uninitiated alike. This needs to be stopped; this needs to be pinpointed as a struggle. With a record as profound and as timely as Sleeps Society, we may have the fundamental piece of the puzzle finally.
Although the album is not likely to stop the challenges of war or global warming, or the constraints and heart-breaking effects of world hunger, it does offer the disillusioned a pathway to the light. The light is pivotal to these souls, the broken army who urgently want to feel something other than shame and sorrow.
And often, the lyrics can be misconstrued on records as dark and as charged as Sleeps Society. These words can be automatically shunted for their provocativeness and their subject. Although, While She Sleeps play with subjects, they do not hit the grain in terms of themes. They do, as a collective, bring forth balance, which lets them conquer.
The album breaks the mould in terms of sensibility. With it comes lyrical qualities and intelligence many bands cannot fathom. While She Sleeps is also an act far beyond their metal-core competitors, pushing predominantly at the grand pillar. Their infusion of breakneck and technical riffs offers artistry and trickery in equal measure, and their energy never seems to cease.
It may be audacious to think that While She Sleeps can grow as a band beyond the sweatiness of the underground as it has taken them a while to solidify their place — seven albums to be precise. However, it is likely they can with Sleeps Society becoming their homage to metal-core.
Sleeps Society begins with ‘Enlightenment’, a song of unbridled sorrow. It is raucous and unapologetic, steering through panic. Lead vocalist Lawrence Taylor pushes his voice to the limits, and with the shuddering importance of the instrumentals behind him; he is in his element.
“Can we all just take a moment
And see what we’ve become?
We’re all so lost and we know it
We’re tired of waking up and feeling numb
We all just sit and wonder (Wonder)
How do we define our love?
The more that I discover
That there’s no me without us’’
It is a start we expect from While She Sleeps. It proves they still have the power to create emotive lyricism. ‘Nervous’is another highlight. It begins with melodic underpinnings and the vocals from Taylor are placid, until he lets the screams in like ghosts. The chorus bubbles with intensity. Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil offers his gritty vocals too.
‘Know Your Worth (Somebody Told Me)’ is a statement of intent. Taylor lends his screams and growls to lay down an anthem for exorcising doubt that the society instils in us to control us.
“Stand tall, know your worth
They can only put you down for so long
Everybody lies to make the silence seem alright
Everybody tries to put this jaded world to right’’
The instrumentals complement the vocals and the echoes power through the thickness of the atmospheric sound.
‘No Defeat for the Brave’ features vocals of Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley. He offers a softer blow. The song centres around the common man and woman and why their choices are usually pushed aside.
“There’s no perfect escape
No permanent faith that cures our need to be free
Don’t give up when you’re close to the edge
There’s no defeat for the brave
Our solace awaits the day that we feel complete
Don’t give up, we’re so close
Are we ever going to break free?
‘Call of the Void’showcases Taylor’s vocal range and lyrical prowess. The song lays bare a woe-begone and shrouded reality with subtlety, compared to the previous endeavours, and the result is beautiful.
“It’s the call of the void
Something we all hold dear
Pulling back nature’s mask and walking into the fear
It’s the call of the void
Distorting life just to feel
Can’t keep holding my breath
Waiting to feel something real’’
The lyrics is melancholic, and While She Sleeps carefully uses words to channel truth through melancholy seamlessly.
While She Sleeps is a band on the cusp of propelling beyond the underground. They do not pull the wool over anyone’s face, and they do not cut corners musically. With powerful music and truthful lyrics, Sleeps Society is a record that will stand the test of time, and in the meantime, while the sceptics witness both the record and band cementing their places in history, the songs will continue offering succour to the disenchanted.
Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist. He has written for a number of online and print publications. He also likes to write dark fiction. His poetry chapbook Lyrics From The Chamber is slated for release in August 2021.