Overall Score: 8/10 Riffs : 9/10 Lyrics: 7/10 Stand out tracks : 8/10 Pros: The great combination of everything While She Sleeps have done before | Those riffs Cons: A few dodgy lyrics | Some experiments still need a little more refinement
WHILE SHE SLEEPS have undeniably been one of the bigger success stories of the last decade within UK metal. They’ve faced their share of adversity and persevered through it all thanks to their fiercely independent drive and DIY ethic. This attitude has been the constant driving force for While She Sleeps alongside their deep connection with their fans. This has now been taken a step further with the launch of their Patreon and it’s a connection that remains crucial for their fifth full length album SLEEPS SOCIETY.
2019’s SO WHAT? felt like one of the more divisive While She Sleeps albums as it saw them take their biggest deviations from their key sound. The shift to a more electronic sound felt like an odd one given that their key strengths were often their crushing riffs and incredible guitar melodies. These were still present to an extent on So What? but certainly took a backseat. The vocals were also more accessible with a bigger focus on melody and the trade off between Loz Taylor and Mat Welsh was used more than ever before. The end results were a mixed bag on So What?, it felt like Sleeps didn’t entirely have a grasp on how to implement the electronic elements and whilst it did seem to take them to the next level in terms of popularity. It also felt like an album that wasn’t universally loved by their fans.
Which brings us to Sleeps Society, an album that builds on everything So What? introduced whilst better combining it with their take on metalcore that made the first three albums so beloved by fans. Opener ENLIGHTENMENT (?) kicks things off with a riff that will feel immediately familiar to fans and that’s certainly not a bad thing. The guitar melodies Sleeps come out with are just so distinct. Sean Long is working overtime on these track showing off so much with his playing. However they still find space to fit in the electronics which provide a nice contrast following the breakdown that smashes its way through the middle of the track. It’s an ambitious opener that sets out exactly what Sleeps are looking to achieve on this album. YOU ARE ALL YOU NEED follows this with another riff heavy track and a real aggressive vocal turn from Loz. This tracks would have sat perfectly alongside the biggest material on YOU ARE WE.
SYSTEMATIC starts with them dropping some Prodigy style beats and channel an almost hip-hop style flow to the vocals. The DJ scratches towards the end even conjure up some nu metal influences but it all works on a track that is sure to be a crowd pleaser live. Then we reach what is arguably the centrepiece of the album with NERVOUS. This tracks see’s Sleeps at their most anthemic and is built around soaring melodies. Melodies that BIFFY CLYRO vocalist Simon Neil is happy to help with as he seemingly does the UK metalcore rounds. Even on a massive emotionally charged track like this, they still manage to find space for an absolutely crushing riff.
Songs like NERVOUS really show off what this album is about. It’s the most refined While She Sleeps album drawing from all their past records in a way that is genuinely cohesive. A problem with So What? was how jarring some of the new elements sounded but that really isn’t the case here. They just have such a clear understanding of who they are and what their sound is. This isn’t as much of a stylistic leap as So What? but its not backtracking either. Given the success of So What? there would be no reason to not continue down that path but everything just fits better this time. Take lead single SLEEPS SOCIETY for example. That song again starts off as another dance heavy track before dropping into a massive riff. But the electronics constantly underpin everything on the track and the combination of that and the riffing gives it such a livewire sound. The build in the middle of this track is another example of the hip-hop influence on the vocals before it drops into a riff that sounds like its ripped right from the Wipeout video games.
Now there are still some problems that crop up with these mash up of influences. The slight rapped sections are certainly better than what a lot of metal bands could offer but when compared to stuff outside of metal they will no doubt seem lacking. But its still cool to see Sleeps at least continue to try their hand at this and improve. Some of the lyrics on the album are also a little bit clunky. Sleeps have never exactly been a band who use subtlety with their lyrics but there are a few moments that are a little too cheesy.
The album also ends on a particularly self indulgent note with DN3 3HT. A spoken word track over a minimal piano instrumental, but it’s dragged out for 7 minutes. Each of the band takes time to talk about what the band means to them and the words do come right from the heart. But it just goes on too long and coming after the brilliant CALL OF THE VOID its an odd way to end things. The other piano ballad DIVISION STREET is also a touch too long and slightly stalls the momentum in the latter half of the albums. Especially coming after NO DEFEAT FOR THE BRAVE which features another fun guest spot from Deryck Whibley of SUM 41.
Still, Sleeps Society is another fantastic album from While She Sleeps that shows how important independence and creative freedom can be for a band. Even if not everything works, it’s an album they have poured everything into and every member feels at the top of their game. Like it goes without saying that Adam “Sav” Savages drumming is incredible across this whole album, same as every other Sleeps album. Loz and Mat just work so well together as co-vocalists now too. The foundations for who While She Sleeps are going forward are now very much in place and will no doubt see the band continue to build on them. The future continues to look very bright for While She Sleeps.
Sleeps Society is released on the 16th of April 2021 through Sleeps Brothers. Pre-order the album now through the bands’ official website.
Rock Sins recently had the pleasure of catching up with While She Sleeps frontman Loz Taylor for an in-depth interview on all things Sleeps Society and much more. Our special feature on While She Sleeps can be read on this link.