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Words by Tracey Moyle

In January 2023, English alternative metaller’s Sleep Token had just over 300,000 monthly Spotify listeners. Just four months later, that number has exploded to over 2,000,000 listeners a month. This was no gradual climb. It was a gigantic leap.

Releasing “four new songs in two weeks” kept a continual stream of mind-blowing, genre-defying, metal tracks that had listeners enthralled to the very last note. With the band’s third studio album, ‘Take Me Back To Eden’, due for release on 19th May, it is anticipated to be something special to say the least.

Sleep Token aren’t new kids on the alternative metal block. ‘Take Me Back To Eden’ follows 2001’s ‘This Place Will Become Your Tomb’, and 2019’s ‘Sundown’ with the mysterious masked musicians building a fanbase dedicated to their all-embracing musical brilliance. This latest offering is no less exploratory, bringing a new depth to the bands musical lure of how each track is an alchemy of different styles from metal to funk, jazz to pop rock.

‘Take Me Back To Eden’ is yet another twelve tracks of musical mastery, defying your audible senses as to what genre you think you’re trying to define. Don’t bother. Just enjoy the ride.

The album opens with the first four singles in order of release, all of which possess their very own temperament.

You are taken from the ominous opening of fan favourite Chokehold, with deeply emotive vocals and ethereal guitars, to the multi-million streamed The Summoning. This track pushes the boundaries of musical innovation with a melding of haunting metal wails, chunky riffs and heavy breakdowns falling into crisp progressive guitars and smooth vocals. The song is like a struggle between light and darkness only to find its way out, as the song transgresses into a gritty, funk rock track. No surprise this song is reaching 100 million streams across all platforms.

The following two tracks, dropped in January this year, follow. Smooth and seductive, Granite will take older fans back to previous albums and sounds with a dark pop vibe. Frontman, Vessel, displays his immense range and vocal flexibility within the first three tracks. This song matures into something intense and dark, leaving the feeling you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

An intro of ‘80s synths and melancholic keys kick off Aqua Regia, with Vessel finding his smooth tempo with vocals. The chilled rhythm and gentle keys have a piano lounge/jazz club feel. A smooth injection of acoustic guitar with (likely) a grand piano collectively entwine into this beautiful masterpiece, leaving a subdued RnB feel. Another example of the band’s musical adaptability.

In complete juxtaposition, following track, Vore, has taken the album back to fully emotive, angsty wails, with cascading drums and massive guitars. It’s the track you’d hear building up a hero’s quest, fighting his final cumulative battle. Ascensionism plummets us back to melancholic keys and stirring vocals. Vessel moves lyrically through measured depths to a rhythmic rapport, building the track with an almost poetic dialogue before an ominous whisper plummets you into a massive breakdown. The track falls in a desperate balance between light and dark, like you actually are hearing someone falling in and out of some sort of mental darkness.

This anguish is followed by the calm of gentle acoustics taking you into Are You Really OK?  By this stage, you really don’t know what to expect from any track until you hear it. Vessels’ piercing orotund vocal evokes emotions you wouldn’t expect penetrating every nerve. This track is emotive and heartfelt with its plea –“please don’t hurt yourself again”, sung with desperate compassion.

The album continues in a way that you can only really listen to and feel. Describing Sleep Token’s sound is like trying to describe an emotion.

By now, you are completely enthralled by the music, following each song, wondering where it will take you next. Moving through, The Apparition is simply a brilliant rock track.  While latest single release, DYWTYLM – (Do You Wish That You Loved Me), brings a whole new, almost pop-rock vibe.  Each song is full of diversions keeping the listener hooked.

Rain is a vocal range showcase. Vessel has complete control over his voice, using his deeply penetrating vibrato with such precision it evokes a physical effect (especially with headphones at a decent volume).

The opening of the album’s title track has perfect vocal annunciation resonating with each lyric. Keys hold the building, melodic tempo through the bridge. The pace continues, but the sound expands as the band comes in with full force. Keeping it just as poignant until the final blows. Then all hell breaks loose. It fades out in an industrial barrage.

Taking out ‘Take Me Back To Eden’, Euclid ends on a reflective note, vocals harmonising like synthesised angels. The pace has a smooth, uplifting fullness, but wait, this is Sleep Token, big riffs and drums appear at scattered intervals until they break through to help this track evolve into a rock track full of heart and soul.

On your first listen of Sleep Token’s ‘Take Me Back To Eden’, as this album ends, there is a strong chance you won’t move straight away. You may just sit and reflect on what you just heard. Then maybe you’ll have another listen.




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