Sleeps Society Review — While She Sleeps Drop a Seminal Metal-core Album

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
Hold on
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?
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. 

An Imagerie (of Summer Afternoons) by Chetan Ashish (June 2021 Issue)

Three regrets sit outside my house and start arguing;
they make up eventually and share a cigarette.
A plume of cigarette smoke turns into a swallow,
it flies into a house being built and is trapped forever.
The ghost of a knife sharpener roams the streets,
he cries out his services — unheard then, and now too.
Five children look for a spot to resume playing cricket,
they find a severed ear and disappear into it.
A sanitation worker sits in a shade formed by lilies
and shares his lunch with a missing afternoon dog.
Grandmother hums and breaks down a chicken
while a group of cats waits outside for the gizzards.
You hang two chikankari kurtis and last night out to dry
and look at me with eyes carrying a composite sorrow.

___________

Chetan is a BTech graduate and a subsequent IT employee, who is actually a wannabe arts student. Poetry is his window to that world, supported by a passion for consuming and discussing cinema, literature, and music (mainly through an anti-caste and Marxist lens). It is also a means for him to understand his place in the world better, both personally and politically. He can also be found sitting by the window in his room sipping coffee, in the company of his best friend and pet shih-tzu Albus. You can find him on Instagram.

Call for Submission – September 2021 Issue

While submissions are open to all, we wanted to take this opportunity to call Dalit-Bahujan-Adivasi creators to bring their stories of food, culture, and identity through poetry, short fiction, essay, art, photo essay, graphic narrative. We also encourage LGBTQ creators to send their entries.

Tenzing Palyon, one of the editors for this issue, came up with the theme based on his tryst with his kitchen and longing to ditch takeaway containers and embrace a dine-in experience once again. The initial idea was to focus on COVID and its impact on how the world consumed food. Seeing that the pandemic only increased the disparity in food consumption, nutrition, and safety, we decided to broaden the scope to include the wider social, economic, and political context of food.

Send us your submissions at popdacultpill@gmail.com

Let Us Sleep

– Ayatree Saha

“तू मुझे मार डाल… लेकिन मैं नहीं उठूंगी। ख़ुदा के लिए मेरे हाल पर रहम कर।”

“उठ मेरी जान, ज़िद न कर। गुज़ारा कैसे चलेगा।”

गुज़ारा जाये जहन्नम में। मैं भूकी मर जाऊंगी। ख़ुदा के लिए मुझे तंग न कर। मुझे नींद आ रही है।”…

“देख मैं हाथ जोड़ती हूँ… मैं कितने दिनों से जाग रही हूँ… रहम कर… ख़ुदा के लिए मुझ पर रहम कर।” (Manto)

The cry of the woman was loud and stern. She begged, she demanded sleep. She was a woman whose labor constituted an important aspect of the economy. She was a woman who was sleep deprived. She was a woman who wanted to respond to her bodily needs, rather than earn to survive another day. She was a woman who lived in a room with a bright light that blind-sighted men. She lay on a floor mat with a dupatta-covered face, unaffected by her starving body. The labor that she had to put through acknowledged neither time nor space. She had marked a space of her own enclosed in darkness, only to be lit by a bulb powered like a hundred candles.1

Poetry, play, art and many other forms of literature have depicted sleep in myriad ways, with multiple interpretation, as necessary, associating sleep with darkness and even death. Medical and scientific studies have explored the process of sleep extensively, so much so that now there are sleep clinics and health associations dealing exclusively with the domain of sleep. However, this does not reduce it to a mere biological phenomenon; the very occurrence and reproduction of sleep, the multiple ways of enactment, and thereby the effects also make sleep what Vilhelm Aubert and Harrison White proclaim as “social event” (Aubert & White, 1959, p. 46).

Saadat Hasan Manto in his short story “सौ  कैंडल पॉवर का बल्ब”, narrates an event of a February evening when things went haywire during an encounter with a stranger. The story revolves around a prostitute, the pimp and the customer. The prostitute incessantly demands to sleep but is denied by the dalaal (pimp) as her labor is the mode of survival. The story evades clarity — the characters have no names, the ending leaves questions unanswered, and the beginning doesn’t give any hints at the unexpected turn in the story. The story ponders over fragmented pieces and ruins that speak of bloodshed. The colour red present throughout the story, whether it is being washed off or worn, hinted at the aftermath that would continue haunting.2 The woman upon continuously begging for sleep, finally gets to sleep, with the dealer dead beside her and a brick covered in blood. It speaks volumes of the labor of women, in this case a prostitute, as well as the kind of inequality and exploitation that prevails. She is the person who meets the needs of survival by selling her labor, which, however, is controlled by the man. Despite that, it is the woman who is sleep deprived and the man continues to have the luxury of sleep. This is true in the context of working class women, who might work as an equal in factories (for instance) to their male counterpart, but the inequality is visible within the domestic space, where not just the emotional labor but every other household chore becomes her duty and responsibility, and the men continue to sleep in front of television (based on Franca Rame’s play “Waking Up”).3 Franca Rame, an Italian playwright and theatre actor, in her monologue from the performance “Waking Up”, portrays the frustration towards her husband, who continues to sleep, without bothering about cleaning, cooking, washing clothes or even talking to her (Fo & Rame). The laughter-inducing performance brings to light the inequality of labor that constitutes the patriarchal structure. 

Both these events are from the previous century, but continue to make statements that are relevant today. With conversation around sleep gradually gaining prominence within the popular and digital culture, the importance of time comes to play. The quotidian of every individual is different, which allows construing different forms of the mundane. The banality of sleep that is embodied and is intrinsic to our everyday lives has been portrayed beautifully in the Bengali film Asha Jaoar Majhe (Labor of Love), directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta. The film includes no dialogues but rather reflects on the mundane that we all experience, by lingering on details that we more than often miss. The movie depicts a day of two factory workers (husband and wife here), throughout their day, the woman in her day shift job and the man during the night shift. Their daily chores are similar to any Bengali household. Their sleep is scheduled by the industrial time and job that demands the characters to shape their lives accordingly. Our lives have intertwined with this industrial time, often making the physiological time obsolete. When we sleep is no more determined by sunrises and sunsets, but rather the late-capitalist enterprise that has moulded time. 

Scientifically, sleep has moved from being considered a dormant act when little happens to something that is an active process (Sloan & Shapiro, 1997, p. 7). Sleep deprivation has become one of the foremost areas of research, especially in a society driven by a 24/7 demand for labor in this late-capitalist enterprise (Crary, 2013). Sleep does not evade governance nor does it escape negotiations on part of practising sleep. Sleep can be a privilege for some, in who sleeps when and how. But sleep also allows subverting the expectation of constant labor and productivity, rationality and activity. The expectation of women to sleep less and work more in a patriarchal household, requires the need to bring attention to sleeping as an act of resistance. However, it still would entail only a minuscule fraction being able to do this. Sleep has not only been capitalized now, as seen through the entire market that has come about, intending to regulate and govern sleep, but it has also provided the package of “efficient sleeping”. This is where individual and collective negotiations allow liminal spaces of resistance in the intersubjective world. 


1This is based on the story “Sau candle power ka bulb” by Saadat Hasan Manto. The particular scene has also been portrayed in the Movie “Manto”, directed by Nandita Das. The scene remains as powerful in its screen interpretation, depicting the prostitute in dire need of sleep and the pimp demanding her to wake up and meet the client.  

2Here, the friend of the client, who witnessed the scene of death and blood, was literally haunted in his dreams.

3In ‘Waking Up’, Rame mocks how men tend to get rid of their responsibilities and rather burden women with more work, which isn’t even considered work as all of this continues to be unpaid labor. As Marxist feminists argue, the economy would fall if women started demanding for the unpaid labor that is constituted as part of their “duty” and “responsibility”.


References

Aubert, V., & White, H. (1959). Sleep: A Sociological Interpretation. I. Acta Sociologica, 4(2), 46-54.

Crary, J. (2013). 24/7 Late Capitalism and the ends of sleep. London and New York: Verso.

Fo, D., & Rame, F. (n.d.). Waking Up. 62-63. Retrieved from http://www.michelledanner.com

Manto, S. H. (n.d.). Sau Candle Power ka Bulb. Rekhta. Retrieved from https://www.rekhta.org/stories/sau-candle-power-ka-bulb-saadat-hasan-manto-stories?lang=hi

Sloan, E., & Shapiro, C. (1997). An Overview of Sleep Physiology and Sleep Disorders. In C. M. Shapiro, & A. M. Smith (Eds.), Forensic Aspects of Sleep (pp. 7-28). John Wiley & Sons.


Ayatree is from Durgapur, West Bengal. She prefers calm and quiet, but indulges occasional noise from people around. She is a sociology major and research scholar with interest in gender, body and everyday life. Currently, she is working on sociality of sleep at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata. You can find her on Instagram.


The essay was published in our April 2021 Issue. Read the full issue here.

Call for Submissions

Writers, thinkers, creators.

Whether you’d like to dream up a Kubla Khan or greet that bank piece of paper (or screen) with fresh ideas after a good-night’s sleep, the importance of sleep to creativity can’t be denied. And not just artists, sleep affects everyone. From feeling the weight of the world crushing your brain to believing you can do no wrong, sleep determines what we can be each and every day of our lives. So pick up your pen, pencil, paint brush and tell the world how you’ve experienced sleep. It can be personal, universal, humorous, political, cultural — just be honest with yourself.

Send your submissions to popdacultpill@gmail.com

Mention “Theme: Genre” in the subject line of the email. For instance, “Sleep: Poetry/Art/Essay” etc.

Include a short author’s bio and link to social media handles for readers to find you.

The artwork and poems published in the newsletter will be republished in the June issue of the poetry publication on the website as a way to find them a more accessible home. If you wish to send creative works outside the theme, fell free to do so. Read the Submissions guidelines.

Fandom justice: Is the fight against nepotism as righteous as people think it is?

As I write this post, the new Dharma Productions film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl sits at a rather unfair 5.2/10 score on IMDB and a trailer for another Bollywood mainstream film Sadak 2 creates a record in garnering the most dislikes on YouTube within days of it being posted. Right now the number of dislike impressions on the trailer are at 12 million. Why are people and the media so angry with the two films? Do they deserve to be so angry? And, do these questions even deserve a write-up?

To understand the anger, one would need to go about two months back to the fateful day when Sushant Singh Rajput, an actor in the Hindi film industry, died. His demise has lead to a number of speculations as to whether he was driven to suicide or was it a cold-blooded murder and who the perpetrators are: the “Bollywood Mafia” as the self-appointed gatekeepers of the film industry are being called or Sushant’s girlfriend. While the speculations haven’t settled on any one party, the incident has set the age-old debate on nepotism in the film industry rolling, and has clearly found a villain in the big names of Bollywood and their “star kids”, whom the netizens have been bashing ever since.

The anger among hardcore Sushant fans and others, who may or may not have been fans, has set off a campaign of hate and abuse against the star kids, the aforementioned movies and one particular filmmaker Karan Johar, who is also known as the mai-baab (godfather) of these so-called star kids. The internet and the news media are, it seems so, in a non-stop war with the Hindi film industry “insiders” for not allowing easy entry to talented “outsiders” in the business and even, in some cases, sabotaging the careers of self-made “stars” in the industry so that the less-talented and undeserving insiders continue to thrive in an industry they have claimed as a gated enterprise.

Quite a noble task the fans have taken up, haven’t they?

Fandom isn’t as menacing and toxic as some people suggest it is.

Not quite, on both accounts.

To begin with, most of us have a skewed idea and superficial understanding of merit, talent, discrimination and justice, and none of us can escape bias (I, as an independent thinker, have my own biases, too). The people who are trying to take down the Bollywood establishment are not any different. The idea of challenging an unjust organisation that thrives on hierarchical exploitation, allows and defends wage discrimination, and is only a less-structured version of corporations has my support, but the way people are going about it, does not.

One of my primary issues with this whole campaign against nepotism is that people are making it only about Bollywood. They are forgetting that they are not on the committee that sends the Best Foreign Film nominations to the Oscars. Nepotism is but only a tip of the capitalist, casteist, racist iceberg that has sunk a lot many smaller boats than a celebrity ship. Before I lose you with the metaphors, allow me to get back to the point: we forget that many of us (at least, the ones who are fortunate enough to be able to voice their opinion) enjoy the privileges of nepotism or other similar privileges that we are born with and have done nothing to achieve or be proud of.

But we wouldn’t question our claim to the life we are enjoying, would we? Because certainly we have worked hard for it. And anyone who does not enjoy a better position has only their lack of merit, sincerity and determination to blame. And as we are so meritorious, just and talented, we have the right to call out the ones who aren’t and are enjoying a position they clearly don’t deserve.

It doesn’t matter how righteous our anger is or how incompetent and undeserving the celebrities are because we are the ones who turned actors into stars. As with god, we created the celebrity cult and personality cult. The people who enjoy this status are merely good at exploiting it. We cannot simply put the blame on them and absolve ourselves of all the prejudices, biases and injustices we support to make it happen. We are a part of the machinery.

Ask yourself, who decided that all the top box-office-friendly “stars” are light-skinned and/or male. Or, why aren’t transgenders allowed to play themselves on screen and tell their own stories? Why is sexism and racism so prevalent in comedies? Why are celebrities afraid of expressing their political beliefs, especially when that belief does not agree with the majority’s? Why isn’t there more representation of indigenous tribes and Dalits? Think about it. All these aspects that we have readily accepted to be not good enough for space on screen and popular culture go on to make make the kind of entertainment we consume and the celebrities we idolise.

We can’t keep fooling ourselves that we are any better than the celebrities we love/hate. We can’t slight them for leading lavish, pompous lives when we ourselves aspire to it. And how do we claim to be fighting for justice when we scoff at stories of discrimination against gender, sexuality and minorities and are quick to accusing victims of pulling the victim card?

We are the internet generation: we fall in love online, our idea of relaxation is governed by a slogan from a video streaming giant, we get our next fix in virtual crates and carts and our obsessions are accompanied by hashtags. The collective consciousness of people has never been so easy to manipulate. But people have always been manipulated. Remember, there was a time when the only source of truth was the religious text. Things have changed, our sources of truth have diversified. But the one thing that has not changed is our love for spectacle. The grander the narrative, the more willing we are to believe. And what gets grander than Bollywood (after religion and cricket)?

Mainstream Bollywood continues to simplify or whitewash the issues faced by people who are at the margins of society as we continue to ignore them by downplaying their need for and right to justice and life of respect. It is not just Sushant’s family who needs justice, there are millions who need that prime-time slot to tell their stories, people who need us to raise our voices in their support. Boycotting movies and actors does not make us powerful consumers. We are still at the mercy of the media that exploits our obsession, weakness for jingoism and spectacle and the free time at our hands to continue peddling a tragic incident with new genre twists that range from suspense thriller, police procedural, family drama to the supernatural (so filmy). Ask yourself, wouldn’t a share of such coverage do wonders for people and issues that desperately need our attention?

Globe – Short Film

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Globe: A Short Film


Untitled design (4)

Globe opens up with a teacher in the classroom, drawing a circle and saying that “This is Earth and the Earth is round.” The camera pans across to Siddhant, a little boy who repeats in the singsong manner without really understanding what this is all about. This is typical of any child. It made me wonder that this might be about the education system in India. It is only a matter of few minutes when you realize that this is about so much more. It is only the innocence and intrigue of a child’s mind that can make us sit back and think about the gravity of any situation. Globe deals with a similar theme.
The film progresses as Siddhant tries to understand Earth from the perspective of the elders around him. He gets answers but does not really satiate his inquisitive mind. It is only…

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