Eight years ago today, While She Sleeps' debut full-length 'This Is The Six' was released. An album of intensity and sentimentality, this is why it continues to be so utterly vital.
While She Sleeps have always been a very special band. Blurring the lines between fan and artist in ways that no one else had even attempted and creating a community that was more like a family, the Sheffield quintet are now one of the finest heavy exports that the UK to offer. Yet back in 2012 no-one was prepared for what they were about to release. On August 13, everything changed forever.
After spending years building up a buzz in the underground, Sleeps still remained one of Britain's best kept secrets. Playing every pub, club, bar and backroom they could, a cult following had started to manifest. To be a Sleeps fan was to be part of a club that only you knew about. There was a respect formed between those who chose to bare the WSS logo across and an unspoken understanding and infatuation for something that, even at these early stages, was much bigger and more powerful than just a band.
From the offset, debut EP 'The North Stands For Nothing' paved the way for something truly groundbreaking. A heart-on-sleeve assault of furious heaviness that encapsulated everything Sleeps stood for in 8 breathless tracks. Raw, hectic and deliciously heavy in all the right ways, it was a statement of intent unlike anything else anyone else was doing at the time. Though the band needed to create something that would appeal to an even wider audience than they already had. They needed that moment that would take things to the next level altogether.
They needed to release something like 'This Is The Six'.
Working out of their custom studio in Sheffield and eventually Chapel Studios in South Lincolnshire, the band created an absolute beast. All the rawness and energy of 'The North Stands For Nothing' was still there but with a much more polished and professional sheen. These were metalcore anthems posing as stadium-sized rock songs.
Opener 'Dead Behind The Eyes' feels like a steel toe cap to the temple ten times over while 'Beli(lie)ve' combines punk rock ferocity with bludgeoning riffing to create the most potent and unique of mosh pit fuel. 'Seven Hills' and 'Our Courage, Our Cancer' are as sentimentally gripping as you can get while 'False Freedom' and 'Love At War' blend shirt tugging emotion with skin splitting aggression to devestating effect. Every track as viscerally vital as the last and every second of music meaning something to someone within the band's camp.
Though more than anything, it all boils down to the title track. An anthem for the ages. A battle hymn for those willing to fight. 4 minutes and 44 seconds of blood and sweat and ink and tears. It's a song that through its unrelenting brutality sums up everything that While She Sleeps stand for.
Ultimately, 'This Is The Six' represented a movement. A revolution. A feeling that together we can achieve anything. This song and this record was more than just music. This represented a connection that runs much deeper than lyrics and riffs and drums and bass. This represented the very reason that we are alive. The thing that makes us want to love and live and laugh and cry and learn. It's the very thing that makes us want to get up in the morning and do everything we can to make the most of the time we have. This was bigger than the band and the people who were listening to them. It was bigger than reviews and features in magazines and chart positions and sold out shows. It was something that people wanted printed on their skin for life. It was something that people wanted to live their lives by.
How many bands can say that they created something that intensely human on their first proper attempt?
Eight years on and While She Sleeps are bigger than they have ever been, yet the message that they delivered through 'This Is The Six' still rings true in everything they do. Their community has bloated in size and it's all because of the family-based ethos that their debut album layed out.
Many bands have tried to replicate the album's sentiment but fallen flat. Many bands have tried to encapsulate the album's sheer brutality but totally missed the mark. But put your ear to the ground and the reverberations of 'This Is The Six' can still be heard and will continue for many more years to come.
We will continue to put our strength in numbers.
You can pick up a copy of 'This Is The Six' from our mates over at EMP from right HERE