While She Sleeps & Loathe – Live Review From The Key Club, Leeds, 20th September

While She Sleeps - Loz Taylor - Leeds Key Club, September 2021, Connor Morris

After a not-so-unexpected postponement, While She Sleeps finally got on the road for an extremely intimate tour to celebrate the release of their fifth album, Sleeps Society. We were there for the first show of their three night stint at The Key Club in Leeds.

The other hottest band in UK metal kicked the night off in a ferocious manner. The very recent and sudden departure of guitarist Connor Sweeney doesn’t seem to have knocked the band off track too much, the performance is just as tight and it’s clear that Loathe (9) have a statement to make and they have a fire in their bellies. From the offset, Loathe deliver a complete assault on the senses. The initial one-two of ‘Gored’ into ‘Aggressive Evolution’ is intense and demands the attention of everyone in the room. Distorted guitars, pounding drums and roaring vocals combined with static televisions on stage and strobe lights fit to give anyone a seizure encapsulate but only one side to the dexterity that Loathe have to offer.

It takes something very special to be able to straddle the line between blisstering metal and blissful shoegaze, yet Loathe are able to make it look so seamless. The juxtaposition between the vocals of Kadeem France and Erik Bickerstaffe is beautiful and adds yet another level to the soundscape of the band and the likes of ‘Stigmata’ and ‘Two-Way Mirror’  are uplifting and still fit in snugly within the chaos of the rest of the set. This band are utterly sensational and you’d do well to catch them in a small venue before they explode into the behemoths they deserve to be.

“WELCOME TO THE SLEEPS SOCIETY!” While She Sleeps (9) open their set in only the way they can. The crowd pushes forward, people are on top of each other and I’m doing everything I can to make sure I don’t get my camera kicked out of my hands. The band hammer straight into ‘Anti-Social’ and the ever so vicious and political ‘Brainwashed’ with the night seeing crowd-surfers a plenty, people hanging from poles and even frontman Loz Taylor doing his absolute best to walk on the ceiling.

It’s a special event seeing While She Sleeps perform in a 300 capacity room given the heights they’ve reached of headlining Brixton Academy just before the pandemic, but this is exactly the sort of event that makes the band so special, and a perfect example of why they’ve amassed such ravenous and loyal fanbase. If Sleeps reach the point where they’re headlining Wembley Arena or Ally Pally, you can guarantee you’ll have the opportunity to see them in venue’s like Key Club, getting up close and sweaty with the fans. This is the embodiment of the Sleeps Society.

There’s a lack of material pre-Brainwashed tonight, but that doesn’t matter one bit when you have songs that sound as gargantuan as ‘Know Your Worth’ and ‘Hurricane’, though some of the new songs sound like they were absolutely built for bigger venues. ‘I’ve Seen It All’ and ‘Nervous’ see massive sing-a-longs from the sold out crowd in attendance now. The set is brought to a close with ‘Systematic’ which sounds very The Prodigy-esque and is perfect for ending the night on a high note. An excellent performance all round and it’s going to be very exciting to hear what the new songs sound like in large venues. 9/10

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