023: SLEEP TOKEN

A mysterious collective, led by a masked individual identified as “Vessel”, who worship an ancient deity known simply as “Sleep” – strange offshoot of the Heaven’s Gate cult, or one of the most fascinating bands to appear tangentially to the metal scene in years?

Sleep Token’s music at first listen can come across like the work of some hipster-bearded indie artist. The vocals are transcendant, the hooks are catchy, and the structure is welcoming, if a little sinister at times. But then a sudden burst of Meshuggah-lite riffs and suddenly, if but for a moment, this is a fucking heavy metal band. Then, as quickly as erupted, it’s gone again. We are back to gentle, catchy, almost poppy alt rock. Where the hell did that come from?

Early on, with a few singles under their belt, this became a bit of an expectation with their music. So, not to be predictable, Sleep Token changed the formula. Repeatedly.

Follow up singles ranged from sincere, catchy pop rock songs, to stripped-back tracks featuring only an organ and impassioned vocals. But that heaviness was was always around, ready to burst forth when a song called for it, before disappearing again. 

Such is the variety of their sound, when it came time for Sleep Token to finally release their much-anticipated full length album, rather than release a couple of singles ahead of time (how could any one song realistically demonstrate the electric sounds and styles to be found on the album?), they release every song. Every single track. One every two weeks. This gave the world two weeks to focus on the one song, to try to understand it, before being distracted. 

And the vastly changing styles every two weeks only made each new song even more of a mystery ahead of release. 

Of course the final album, while erratic and adventurous, is a single, cohesive and connected work. An enrapturing tale told so many different ways by an enigmatic and incredibly talented artist.