While She Sleeps, O2 Academy Leeds

Metalcore with an anti-bullshit manifesto…

The night before Sheffield metal quintet While She Sleeps dropped their fourth studio album, ‘SO WHAT?’, I had the privilege of seeing them play at the O2 Academy in Leeds. The ticket was a birthday gift from my team at work, and I managed to meet up and watch the set with a former boyfriend/good friend, so there were some bonuses to the experience.

I arrived just as Stray from the Path, a politically-charged, angst-fuelled, hardcore punk band from Long Island, New York, were getting the crowd pumped up. Two of their powerful tracks stood out from their short set; ‘The House Always Wins’ and ‘Goodnight Alt-Right’ are two immensely heavy, almost intimidatingly confident songs that have gripped me since. They were the ideal segway to While She Sleeps’ performance, and I’d definitely see them again.

When Loz Taylor, long locks swaying, and his band took centre stage, there were hands in the air and a mosh pit kicked off. They peppered their set list with old favourites like the ferocious ‘Feel’, evocative ‘Empire of Silence’ and emotive ‘Hurricane’ — the latter tying together nicely the sense of bullshit in society, which underpins a large portion of their latest album. Naturally, their set was filled with new singles. That really got everyone going as well — not least because we were just hours away from the release of the full record at that point.

‘ANTI-SOCIAL’, one of the first singles to surface from the album, really riled everyone. It’s been discussed that the band have taken and run with the concept of society and social situations being enshrouded in cynicism on ‘SO WHAT?’, expanding on bullshit and people masking their real selves in their songs. It’s incredibly thought-provoking stuff, which is just another reason why this band excel. They aren’t unruly metalheads — there’s some envelope-pushing questions in their lyrics.

‘ELEPHANT’, ‘SET YOU FREE’ and ‘THE GUILTY PARTY’ (I really wish the female vocals at the beginning of that track didn’t remind me of that vile ‘Hotel Room Service’ from Pitbull —tell me you hear it, too?) were among more standouts from the latest record.

I know a lot of people that can’t be bothered even entertaining metal music, as it’s wrongly labelled ‘noise’. And I get it with some bands, but not While She Sleeps. They’re talented, melodic and seriously switched-on. Go and see them if you get the opportunity.

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