Sleep Token - Take Me Back to Eden (Spinefarm)
When it comes to visual art, such as abstract sculptures or surrealist paintings, the longer one stares at the object, the more they see. And often times, they more one sees, the less one knows as reality seemingly bends and twists. While arguably more challenging to do with music since sight and sound are different forms of perception, every once in a while, a band will create an audio version of this experience.
Enter Sleep Token, one of most ambitious projects the metal and rock world has ever seen. Donning masks and using pseudo names, at first glance, the English unit might be confused for something akin to Ghost, Portal, Abyssal, or Gaerea. But one listen to the tracks from their third album, Take Me Back to Eden quickly shows that none of these bands have anything musically on common with Sleep Token, and, perhaps, no band in existence does.
From the opening lo-fi synth notes of "Chokehold" backing the brassy voice of an entity only known as Vessel, the song transitions into a dreamy, low tuned guitar venture. If a moody pop singer were to take up mic duties for a band influenced by Meshuggah and Deftones, that would be the next closest thing to the album's first track.
Dialing up the aggression a bit, and peppering in textures akin to Animals As Leaders and Nine Inch Nails, "The Summoning" gives Vessel the opportunity to switch between unholy screams and a hypnotic clean. And just when the song seems over, the final section is a huge wall of sound that, for few seconds, seems more like a Muse or Imagine Dragons song than something you were just moshing to.
Keeping in the stylings of the aforementioned pop-alternative bands, "Granite" and "Aqua Regia" are sequencer driven numbers that are a perfect balance to the banshee shrieks and heavy guitar and drum work on "Vore". Coming in as the sixth single, "DYWTYLM" (which stands for Do You Wish That You Loved Me?) is a quirky space pop song. With eyes closed, it is certainly reminiscent of deep cuts from Daft Punk and even Billie Eilish.
As the second longest track on the album, "Ascensionism" is a somber, piano led song that collapses inward in the final movement into a void from which no sound but the Vessel's scream escapes. Long time fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan might be reminded of their song "Widower" in terms of structure.
For all the weight of the album, closer "Euclid" is surprisingly upbeat musically, but is lyrically pained and haunting. Whoever is behind the voice and words is no stranger to immense heartache and the feeling of trying not to care and let the past go, but nevertheless struggling to do so. It is a sonic teardrop, an acceptance of things that cannot be changed. Perhaps that is the lesson to be learned from the album as a whole.
The Metal Mayan review: 13/10
I've said it once and I'll say it again: I am a huge fan of bands that fall in the genre of 'what even was that?!" In the ten years I have been reviewing music, I don't think any band has championed this style like Sleep Token does. We retired the number system some time ago, but for one day only, it is back to give this release 13 out of 10: perfection witnessed.
I first heard "The Summoning" on Sirius XM Liquid Metal and had to hear it again and again. Heavy, grooving guitars, crooning vocals balanced with demonic shrieks, and an ending I was not expecting. I might be The Metal Mayan, but my musical tastes go far beyond, and this song alone hit more than a few of them.
Still, what brought this album to a standstill for me was the closing track, "Euclid". Dealing with some unfinished business myself, closures that I know will never come, I was in tears with the line 'call me when you have the time, I just need to leave this part of me behind'.
For me, art of any kind is a masterpiece if it can successfully generate emotions, and every song on this album did something for my spirit. It was like looking at the darkest things and recognizing that, without them, we cannot grow stronger and appreciate the joys in life.
Take a trip into your inner self - visit your local record store and pick up a copy of Take Me Back to Eden, out now on Spinefarm.
Advanced copy courtesy of Atom Splitter PR and Spinefarm