Metal Hammer (UK)

sleep token




Mystery-steeped post-metallers make an enthrallin­g statement of intent

When many first discovered the mysterious world of Sleep Token in 2017, they weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Their music defied classifica­tion: a blend of labyrinthi­ne metal and tender postrock, where tension ebbed and flowed, and ethereal soundscape­s erupted into fits of violence. Coupled with mournful, overenunci­ated, Bon Iveresque vocals, it made for an intriguing and polarising listen. Secretive, masked bandleader Vessel would only communicat­e via email and, instead of answering questions directly, he solemnly repeated the band’s devotion to an ancient deity called Sleep, whom he had encountere­d in a dream. It’s easy to see why some people initially dismissed the band as a pretentiou­s gimmick.

The reference points were easy enough to recognise: the technical ferocity of Meshuggah, Explosions In The Sky’s emotive shimmer and Leprous’s penchant for histrionic­s. But when all the parts were assembled, Sleep Token sounded like no one else. Now two years later, the band’s much-hyped debut handles its divisive nature as deftly as a walker on a high rope. By the time Sundowning is released, fans will have heard the whole thing already; every two weeks at sundown, the band have released a new track, each accompanie­d by its own rune and video. It’s a clever approach that has whipped up a real buzz and got fans talking online about thematical concepts and racing to decipher the lyrics.

Even in their early days, Sleep Token wielded their quiet/loud dynamic in refreshing and captivatin­g ways, but now there’s a much denser, varied sound palette at play. Dark Signs is laced with chilly, clipped atmospheri­cs,

ghostly vocals and dark trap beats.

Album highlight Sugar stutters and pulses, incorporat­ing gossamer-light atmospheri­cs before detonating in a brutally spectacula­r finish.

Vessel, too, has developed massively as a singer. His poignant, distinctiv­e vocals still come in two oppsing shades, going for the jugular on savage tracks like The Offering and Gods

– the latter having an excellent Deftones

Diamond Eyes vibe

– but elsewhere otherworld­ly, remarkably beautiful and capable of conjuring the most visceral, heartbreak­ing imagery. ‘Your body is mostly blood,’ he murmurs on

Levitate. ‘Will you levitate? Up where the angels inhabit?’ Sacrificia­l closer Blood Sport, with its skeletal keys and yearning choir, comes closest to capturing the ritualisti­c vibe of their live shows: nearreligi­ous experience­s that often provoke tears from the crowd.

It sounds like a cliché, but by retaining their shadowy presence Sleep Token are a band who have let their music do the talking. They rarely do any kind of press and much about them remains shrouded in mystery. Are they a collective, or is Vessel a one-man show? And as the band get bigger, how long will it be until they’re forced to lift the veil? We may never get answers but one thing is certain: if there’s any justice in the world, Sundowning

will make Sleep Token huge. This is a stunning, gorgeous record that presents a truly unique take on heavy music, a perfect balance of emotion, power and ambience. Go forth and worship.


FOR FANS OF: Leprous, Deftones, Cult Of Luna


“This is a Truly unique Take on heavy music”

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 ??  ?? Sleep token’s Vessel waxes lyrical on his debut full-length
Sleep token’s Vessel waxes lyrical on his debut full-length
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