While She Sleeps, ‘Self Hell’ | The Album Story

While She Sleeps’ Loz and Sean talk us through the making of their upcoming sixth studio album ‘Self Hell’, set for release on March 29 via Sleeps Brothers.

It features recent singles ‘To The Flowers’, ‘Leave Me Alone’, the title track and ‘DOWN’, their collaboration with Malevolence.

Read While She Sleeps ‘Self Hell’ | The Album Story below:

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The beauty of While She Sleeps is that you simply don’t know what is coming next. That’s because, throughout their career, the band have defied any expectations attached to them. From building Sleeps HQ from the ground up in their hometown of Sheffield to creating the revolutionary Sleeps Society as a means to be as self-sufficient as possible, everything they have done is tailor-made to them and nobody else. That lust for independence also extends to their musical output, which has seen them spread their wings more and more with each release.

“I feel like a lot of Sleeps fans trust our judgment,” guitarist Sean Long explains. “It’s been that way since [2019 album] 'So What’. People love to watch us have fun with what we are doing, and that’s where our fandom comes from. They love watching us take these crazy risks and pour ourselves into new ideas. To change is the way that we stay alive.”

And that sentiment is more prominent than ever on 'SELF HELL’. Bringing together layers of metalcore ferocity and brash British rock – a term the band has coined as Brit-Mosh – but then throwing in exuberant electronica, intricate trip-hop and shimmering pop for good measure, it is a melting pot of influence, inspiration and intensity. A tapestry as varied and vibrant as life itself, it’s an album that exists within every corner of the spectrum. It is a summation of what it means to be a band that can conquer arena-sized stages but also thrive on proving that they are worth their weight in gold at every opportunity.

“For many of our previous records, we have felt like an underdog,” vocalist Loz Taylor explains. “That was a driving factor for so much of what this band has been. But now, we’re learning that we aren’t that underdog anymore. Selling out Alexandra Palace gives you the confidence to relax a little bit and know that as long as we are happy with it, we can stand by our work. In some senses, we are a DIY band; in others, we are an arena band. We know that we’re going to prevail no matter what.”

Now Rock Sound is sitting down with Sean and Loz to dive into every aspect of how they put together such an expressive, chaotic and undeniable body of work.


When you’ve been doing things for as long as While She Sleeps has, it’s easy to find yourself getting into a groove you may not have intended. Though metalcore has always been their bread and butter, and in their early days, the thing that helped to put them on the map, it’s not strictly what they all listen to and indulge in now. Sean would be the first to admit that he loves making metal more than he likes listening to it. So now, with this being the band’s sixth full-length, they felt as though all bets should absolutely be off. If something feels right and they are having fun making it, then that is what they will do.

“I think with this album, it’s the weirdest album we have made,” Sean laughs. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, to be honest. But that’s a good representation of the fact we have thrown everything in the pot and just had fun as much as possible. My old priority used to be, 'How do I make the best metal song to make While She Sleeps massive and have a great career?’ Now, it is to make sure everyone feels heard.”

That’s how you end up with songs like 'RAINBOWS’ combining hardcore brute force with ethereally discordant synth lines. It’s how the world music percussion of 'ENEMY MENTALITY’ can rub shoulders with the early 00s post-hardcore of 'WILDFIRE’. And most prominently, it’s how you end up with a title track like 'SELF HELL’, which sounds like if Alan McGee discovered Oasis in the Camden Underworld rather than Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Such an array of sounds represents just how different the members of While She Sleeps are, but why it is so vital that they indulge all of those differences when they are together. Such openness to adventure has helped them to create something that sounds like nobody else, and that’s a rare feat in this day and age.

“It’s come from a place where we want everybody in the band to have their moment. It’s the most collaborative album we have done as a band simply because we are trying to be respectful of each other’s desires and put them out there. That’s what is making us sound like this. It may sound like a left turn at times, but it is what at the time sounded good and how we are all trying to express ourselves.”


Much of what makes 'SELF HELL’ such a widespread celebration of doing whatever feels right can be pinpointed to the guests that the band has also brought into the fold. First up is the crushing 'DOWN’, which features Alex Taylor of close friends Malevolence. Being from the steel city of Sheffield, there is a beautiful allegiance to be found in the collaboration, but also a sense of community and holding up the things you love the most. Then, on the beautiful pulses of 'DOPESICK’, they welcome Fin Power of Scouse post-everything rioters STONE. Another nod to getting closer to mastering that combination of brit-pop and metal is a celebration of how so many young bands are trying to push the boundaries of what is expected of them. And finally, on the tranquil 'NO FEELING IS FINAL’ is Aether, an electronic artist from Japan whom Sean discovered during the pandemic and fell head over heels for. Very much a catalyst for a lot of the more synth-led work on the record, their contribution is as gorgeous still as it is emotionally dense.

“The way that the three guests look from an outside perspective is a good summation of what we are as a band,” Sean nods, proud of how far they have spread things. “It was quite a subconscious thing to bring everybody together.”

Sean will also be happy to admit that producing the record alongside long-term friend and collaborator Carl Bown is a primary reason why these seeds were planted in the first place.

“Carl is a sneaky little bastard,” he jokes. “He will text me things, knowing full well it will have a knock-on effect on me buying a particular synth or listening to something that he knows will inspire me. He knows he is getting in my head, dropping in these little notes, and it really does help. He knows how to send inklings or attempts to make us think about the bigger picture. That’s such a massive help.”


Seeing as 'SELF HELL’ weaves and bounds between sounds, it only makes sense that the emotional resonance of the record does precisely the same. Much of this comes from the band’s intent to show off everything life has to offer, both the good and bad. For Loz, this comes from writing down everything that comes into his head throughout the course of the writing process. Any little piece of dark poetry that popped into his head would get added to the pile. Some snippets are cheerful and ready to party; others are downtrodden and an indication of going through it. Though having them all in one place shows just how much you change over the course of a day, let alone a year.

“If you take a year of your life, there will be moments of despair and moments of being pissed off, but in the same week you can be ecstatic about something and be having a great time. So when I write down what I’m feeling, some parts can be violent, aggressive, and negative, but there is also stuff that sounds beautiful and positive. I really like that juxtaposition on this record. The message for Sleeps has always been that life can be fucking shit sometimes, but we can all be in the shit together. Let’s have a good time whilst we can. Speaking about the negative but in a positive way. It creates such a fun collaboration of feelings.”

Having that sense of reality planted in their lyrics stems right back to the beginning of the While She Sleeps story. After all, many fans fell in love with the band thanks to the chest-thumping honesty of 'Crows’ and 'Hearts Aside Our Horses’ on their debut EP ‘The North Stands For Nothing’. And such starkness can still be found on 'SELF HELL’ on a track like 'TO THE FLOWERS’. A rollercoaster of tear-stained affirmations that touches on what it means to love and to lose, it’s the sort of song that will stick with people and soothe them in their darkest moments for the rest of the days. Being able to still craft such moments is something the band doesn’t take for granted but is immensely proud to be associated with.

“It makes me proud that we are saying the things that we are saying as a band,” Sean states. “We have people telling us, ‘Thank you for saying that’ because we’ve been able to put that one feeling they were searching for into a song at just the right time. It’s exactly what they wanted. We have always been about capturing those emotions, whether dancing to a riff or getting you thinking about family and your life.”


'SELF HELL’ may seem like a clever piece of wordplay on the surface, but it’s even more direct than that. It stemmed from a conversation between Sean and Loz where they noticed that when writing “self-help” down on a piece of paper, you actually need to write “self hell” – minus an L – first. From such a simple realisation, the sentiment grew. It is understanding that you must make your way through the murkiest points of the swamp if you want any chance of making it to the ocean’s clear waters. There’s no way around it, and that’s a sad fact of the universe. But facing the fire head-on will show you that you can conquer anything and are stronger than you ever thought possible.

“That’s just how the pendulum swings,” Loz explains. “You have to go so far out of your comfort zone, facing against the despair of things, to be able to even think of coming back and figuring out who you are, where you are and what you need to change. It felt natural to land on it, and it nicely summed up everything we were working towards.”

That journey is also reflected in the record’s artwork perfectly as well. The iconic WSS emblem, one that has found its way into everything the band over the years, can be seen behind a pane of broken glass. The way that glass has shattered indicates how things can be broken, but the core of who you are will still be visible. It also represents how the band isn’t afraid to change what has come before, indicating how left-field ‘SELF HELL’ may sound to some listeners.

“It’s showing people that we aren’t scared to do what we want,” Sean states. “Everything we have built over the last 17 years is still there; you can see it despite how we have broken it. This period in our life has shattered, but we are still the same people. We will continue doing what we want because the emblem remains there.”

“You’ll never get the glass to shatter the same way again,” Loz adds. “The way that it looks is how it will always look in time forever, and these songs are the same. They will always be like this and never be the same again.”


The thing about While She Sleeps is that something is always going on. Whether that is working on alternate versions of this new batch of songs or working out how to expand and build their already impressive stage design for future shows, a project is always on the go. But that’s nothing new. It’s been the same since their inception; now, their self-sufficient empire is just a lot bigger. They are now a band that can play venues as big as Alexandra Palace. They are in a place where their logo is plastered high up on the Download Festival line-up. It is very much a case of keeping that energy at the forefront. With their mates Bring Me The Horizon and Architects now headlining festivals and selling out arenas, the doors open for the Best Of Britain to take over. While She Sleeps are ready to join those ranks.

“The fact that we can do anything we want and it works gives us an awful lot of freedom to not worry as much,” Sean concludes. “If we want to make something, we will make it happen. The doubt that comes with that is slowly fading away more and more. We’ve already got some huge plans for 2025 that we can’t talk about yet, but the bar is getting higher and higher. Ally Pally was something we always assumed you get offered, but in reality, we were the ones who said, ‘Let’s do it’. Build it, and they will come, as they say. If you put your mind to it, it will manifest. If you make a space, it will get filled. Now, we will keep going all the way to the top. The shift is happening right now, and I absolutely love it.”

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