EP REVIEW: Sleep Token – Two
Masked, anonymous bands are often a difficult beast to deal with, but even by the standard of bands like Slipknot and Ghost, Sleep Token stand out from the crowd. That’s because their anonymity is not just mere theatrics. The four-piece, so they say, are united in worship of an ancient deity known only as ‘Sleep’, and hide themselves behind masks and Grim Reaper-style cloaks so that their individual identities don’t distract from their music, offered up in worship to this long-forgotten god. We know. Weird.
The music at the centre of this strange cult isn’t exactly what you’d expect either. The three songs on this second EP are a mix of mellow, ethereal soundscapes and heavy, prog metal riffs, all topped off by the dreamy, anguished voice of their lead singer, who goes only by the name Vessel (as in a vessel for carrying their god’s message). It’s Sigur Ros meets Deftones, and while those sound like two things that might not mix well, Sleep Token have managed to marry them into something that’s actually pretty interesting.
Single Calcutta is a perfect example of this. It opens with palm-muted guitar and builds slowly, adding echoey percussion and Vessel‘s dreamy falsetto, reaching the chorus with a prayer-like chant of “I will say your name”. Overdriven guitars kick in for a heavier section, Vessel sings “I’m whole again…” and all of a sudden there’s a explosion of guitar noise, a heavy, grimy metal riff that you can just see causing huge circle pits in a crowd, or in this case I suppose, a congregation. It’s both light and dark, beautiful and ugly in one song, and all across the EP the vocals show that too. Vessel‘s voice is absolutely stunning, but alongside the religious themes there is a lot of darkness in the lyrics – Nazareth opens with the line “I’ll see you when the wrath comes” and follows it with dark, violent imagery, and the echoey keys and heavy guitars on Jericho are a backdrop for the line “you taste like new flesh”. Whoever this ‘Sleep’ is, it’s pretty obvious they’re not an entirely benevolent god.
If you can get beyond the weird, cult-like vibe that Sleep Token are putting out, or if you really like a theatrical, immersive experience with your music, then there’s a lot to like here. Just bear in mind that Vessel says “nothing lasts forever”, and embrace their religion while you still can.
Standout Track: Calcutta
For Fans of: Leprous, Deftones, Sigur Ros
Written by: Josh Prentice