REVIEW: SLEEP TOKEN - TAKE ME BACK TO EDEN (2023) - Maximum Volume Music (2024)

Early in January, I was sitting doing some stuff on the website at about midnight when a single arrived.

I listened to it and thought it was stunning. And “Chokehold” proves this is not a “normal band”. Ambient, but the chorus hits and you don’t need to be told that they are doing things heavy if they choose.

The next night they did it again, and dropped “The Summoning”. Passages of sound. Epic in scale. Then cheerfully morphs into a pop song. It’s quite something.

Those two songs are the first two here too. And it means Sleep Token is back with album number three, their “Slippery When Wet” if you will. The one, realistically, that’s going to put them in arenas before the year is out, surely. Everyone Googling to see who it is ( smart money is on ex-Blacklit Canopy singer, Leo Faulkner from Bristol because Loathe let the cat out of the bag) like it matters.

After listening to those two songs I bought a ticket for the gig in Birmingham a week or two later and I witnessed a band of real skill and originality who were obviously on the cusp.

Regular readers will know I don’t care much about, or buy into, gimmicks, and I don’t like Sleep Token because they wear masks and are “enigmatic” but because they craft interesting music, unlike others.

“Granite” for example, is electro, r, and b. Yes, there’s a modern metal tinge, but, like on “Aqua Regia” there’s more going on. The clever use of keys on this one stands out.

And “…. Regia” is one that they’d played in Birmingham that night. The first time they had. It was entirely in keeping that they did the set how they wanted to do it, as they do with “Vore”. Icy blasts of death metal, followed by gargantuan harmonies as if it was Devin Townsend.

And the use of Devin is deliberate, but there’s something of the mad alchemist about Sleep Token too. Yet also you find yourself wondering if you’re listening to a Prog Band. So are you?

It’s hard to listen to “Ascensionism” and think of anything else. Over seven minutes long, with everything from fragility to vocoders to outright heaviness. It’s a brilliant piece in its ambition and scope.

“Are You Really OK?” Sees Acoustics come out for a song about mental health, and the keyboard-heavy “The Apparition” with its pulsing dance beat, and on both, you are struck by how ‘mainstream” the lyrics are. One of the incongruous things about the band perhaps? That for all the secrecy they are just writing love songs like everyone else.

“DYWTYLM” is fragile “do you wish that we could be different people?” Offers Vessel, and maybe that’s the reason for the anonymity?

It has to be said that he has a superb voice, an instrument in its own right, falsetto one minute on “Rain” and spitting lyrics almost rap style before the storm squalls in and it builds.

The title track almost floats, but does so in such a way as to unsettle and no one is shocked at the modern metal power chord added in just because, or the fact there’s a rap. “I need you to see me for what I have become” a line here, feels important, because is this merely a, well, vessel, for stardom? Will there be another reinvention? What is the point of the backstory?

I’m inclined to think it matters not a jot, frankly, and that this is all a soundscape, a journey that took place because it could, that is the feeling after the last one, “Euclid”, one of the highlights, it’s the perfect album closer.

Whether you buy into the concept or not is up to you. I don’t, but you can’t deny the actual music that Sleep Token create is unlike anyone else’s.

“Take Me Back To Eden” is going to sell or stream whatever they call it these days, in the millions, and they’ll be putting up black and white pictures of gigs in stadiums soon enough, it’s essentially tremendous that what basically is a prog rock band has captivated people in this way.

The acid test is, of course: without the masks would anyone care? Impossible to answer, but they should.

Rating 8/10

REVIEW: SLEEP TOKEN - TAKE ME BACK TO EDEN (2023) - Maximum Volume Music (2024)

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