Metal Hammer (UK)
UNDERWORLD, LONDON If there’s a
Contrary, cult post-black metallers cloak Camden in mystery
deviant Machiavellian genius pulling the strings behind the inexorable rise of the masked men and women of Sleep Token, then they’re clearly doing a smart job.
The Underworld is rammed, and the bi-weekly drip-feed of tracks from upcoming album Sundowning is paying off in spectacular fashion. Each new song gives fans a new focus to obsess over and a new lyric to learn. And so the audience sings as one, the words bellowed out as if they’re road-worn classics rather than recent additions to the digital ether.
There’s something going on here. Sleep Token might be influenced by the equally mysterious downtempo musician Burial and by post-dubstep warbler James Blake as much as they are by the likes of Meshuggah, but the long stretches of urban shuffle and swing don’t feel like a contrary gimmick. Even the subtle use of autotune, which gives the vocals an otherworldly, inhuman feel, feels right. It’s an effect, after all, like a guitarist’s wah-wah pedal, and there’s no doubt that the mysteriously named Vessel can sing.
In fact, he can really sing. His voice soars behind the mask, and everyone joins in, and each new song is greeted with gasps of recognition and disbelief. The keyboard intro to The Offering sees the tension rise before an utterly savage riff drops, and the crowd’s commitment to the ‘I miss the man I was’ line on Dark Signs is breathtaking. The ringing climax to Higher is a set of visceral, chestthumping punches, while Drag Me Under is its polar opposite, Vessel singing alone at the piano, a hush lingering in the air. And, as if to confound traditionalists further, it all ends with a sombre, spellbinding take on Outkast’s Hey Ya. There’s really
something going on here.