Photo: Marcia Richards
Any While She Sleeps fan will tell you: it's not just a band, it's a lifeline.
For the past 14 years, the Sheffield metalcore outfit have soundtracked fans' highs and lows.
And when shit hit the fan last year - with the absence of live music and a once-thriving industry holding on by a tightrope amid the global pandemic - Loz Taylor and co were determined to not let this ship they've been sailing for the past decade or more sink and abandon their troops.
Instead, they created the Sleeps Society, a Patreon-powered platform to continue their service as close to business as usual as possible.
The band shared in a statement: "With the future of live performances uncertain, the Sleeps Society will enable a secure existence for WSS and gives us the opportunity to stay connected with our fanbase, developing new ways to provide for our supporters and fill the void left without live music. In these uncertain times, this is the difference between life & death for the future of WSS. We aren't prepared to be another band forced to give up simply because the system isn't designed to support the artist.
The idea behind the society was created after over a decade’s experience of this rollercoaster ride that is the music industry. Having overcome mountains of hardship & financial debt, it feels important to share what we’ve learned along the way with those who are drawn to a similar path as ours. This model will provide a new route for upcoming artists and bands similar to us, using our knowledge and guidance to help achieve a realistic career in the creative industries."
Sharing a title of the same name, WSS' fifth studio album is an emotional declaration of their gratitude for their loyal following and being able to continue their livelihood.
It's also filled with moving lyrics that are not only comforting and empathic, but could potentially be just what a listener suffering with their mental health needs to hear in that moment.
On opener, 'ENLIGHTENMENT (?)', Taylor and co-vocalist and guitarist Mat Welsh pledge: “If you feel like giving up, there’s something I need you to know – that I’m here for you.”
Elsewhere, single 'NERVOUS' featuring Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil might be their most vital record to date.
Not only does it open the band up to an even wider audience, but it's getting across a crucial message to more people; that we are all the same and never alone.
Sonically, the track simulates how overwhelming and ugly anxiety is.
The soft start with the keys is like going about your every day life and the urgency of the gang vocals erupt like the brain in a poor mental state. Neil's instantly recognisable, soothing Scottish tongue adds a comforting layer to the velocity.
The follow-up to 2019's 'So What?' is WSS' most expansive LP to date, switching around with the trademarks we've come to expect.
The album's title track, for instance, sounds like Pendulum decided to go metal, while 'CALL TO THE VOID' enters 90s boy band territory - Backstreet Boys eat your heart out - with harmonising like we've never heard before from the five-piece.
Deryck Whibley-featuring 'NO DEFEAT FOR THE BRAVE', meanwhile, could very much fit on 2015's 'Brainwashed'.
A landmark album for WSS, 'Sleeps Society' is vital, and one they can look back on with the knowledge that they were strong enough to weather the hellish storm of a pandemic, while providing an empathic shoulder to lean on for their army of fans.
'Sleeps Society' is out on April 16.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES:
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Men's Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
Textcare: comfort and care via text message, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer support forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum