6 years ago today, While She Sleeps' full length debut 'This Is The Six' was released. An album of intensity and sentimentality, RS scribe Jack Rogers looks back on 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 a way that no other band had even attempred 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 the best kept secrets that the British scene had to offer. Playing every bar, pub, club and toilet circuit backroom they could, a cult following was starting to take shape. Being a Sleeps fan was like being a part of a club that only you knew about. If you saw someone else wearing a WSS shirt, there was an understanding between the two of you. A respect that can only be formed through a shared love of something that's much bigger and more powerful than you. Debut EP 'The North Stands For Nothing' had paved the way for something truly groundbreaking. A heart on sleeve assault of metalcore fury that encapsulated everything that 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 10 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 ink and sweat and tears. It's a song that through its unrelenting brutality sums up everything that While She Sleeps stands 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 basslines. This represented the very reason that we are alive. The thing that makes us want to love and to live and to laugh and to 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 had. This was bigger than the band and the people who were listening. 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 peope wanted to live their lives by.
How many bands can say that they created something that intensely human with their first full length?
6 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 fallen flat. Sleeps forged a record that brought together people from every single walk of life and influenced them to live life to its fullest, because you never know when it's going to end. They forged a record that taught people about the importance of family in a way that hadn't been represented in metalcore before. 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.