Album review: While She Sleeps – SELF HELL

Sheffield metalcore heroes While She Sleeps push their identity forward into uncharted territory on their masterful sixth album…

Album review: While She Sleeps – SELF HELL
Rishi Shah

They blew the roof off London’s Alexandra Palace last September, but the tale of While She Sleeps still feels like an underdog story. Staunchly DIY in their approach, the rise of the Sheffield quintet has been hard-won, aided by their faithful fanbase: the Sleeps Society.

With the wind in their sails, it’s hardly surprising that their sixth album, SELF HELL, is their most fearless. The 12-track collection mediates its electronic curveballs with the melodic metalcore mash-up that Sleeps have pioneered over their career, blended to masterful effect. This is their amo; their Holy Hell – proof that this current version of Sleeps is a grade above the band who released SLEEPS SOCIETY in 2021.

Influences from The Prodigy come to the fore on LEAVE ME ALONE, which seamlessly transitions from rapid-fire rager to electronica anthem. Uber-compressed synths herald in a bone-crushing breakdown, as a creeping voice announces, ‘We are While She Sleeps’. It’s a microcosm that personifies the album, where opposite soundscapes can sit cohesively under the same umbrella.

DOPESICK and the title-track get to the crux of the album’s themes, reflecting on the pitfalls of addiction and depression that Sleeps have never shied away from tackling. The key takeaway is empowerment, exemplified by the repeated lyric that will come to define this era: ‘Let’s praise the love inside of us’. TO THE FLOWERS is an emotional behemoth, elevated by a signature Sean Long riff and its heart-wrenching video, directed by bassist Aaran McKenzie.

There’s room for a monstrous feature from Malevolence’s Alex Taylor on DOWN, before Japanese producer Aether lends his expertise to NO FEELING IS FINAL, an unorthodox intermission that is matched by the eccentric ambience of OUT OF THE BLUE. ENEMY MENTALITY has an ending fit for a warehouse rave, while WILDFIRE is a classic Sleeps cut that could have easily found a home on 2015’s Brainwashed.

Staying true to their creative principles, SELF HELL marks a band in the form of their lives.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, Bury Tomorrow

SELF HELL is released on March 29

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