Sleep Token – Take Me Back to Eden review

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Sleep Token Take Me Back To Eden: Everything We Know About The Album

Usually, when I write a review, I try to convey three things. Did I enjoy the album? Will current fans enjoy and fans of what genres might enjoy discovering this? I don’t like to go into agonizing detail; just shoot straight. I’m telling you right now we can throw that formula out the window.  After listening to Sleep Token’s Take Me Back to Eden, I have lots of thoughts that need to be expressed. 

So let’s just get the formalities out of the way. Did I enjoy it? In a year where some monsters of metal are releasing new material, I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t wind up my #1 album of the year, maybe of the decade. 5 gold stars, 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, 5 out of 5 traffic cones, whatever unit of measurement you prefer, it’s the top. 

Will current fans like it? If you liked their previous two albums, this blows them out of the water. It’s a gargantuan step forward that I think will see the band enter arena headliner status, maybe even, and I don’t say this lightly, Tool levels of cult fandom. 

As for fans of what genre? I have no clue. Categorizing this band is like looking at a bowl of Skittles and saying what colour is it? I’ve seen them described as post-metal, indie, prog, pop-metal, trapcore. I’ve seen the term Imagine Dragonscore thrown out, which gave me a giggle. But labels are useless. I hear elements of jazz, grunge, electro, 80s. It’s everything thrown in a blender, and it just somehow works. 

A quick intro to the uninitiated, this London (the real one in England) quartet are a masked anonymous group led by singer Vessel and his aptly named bandmates II, III and IV. They claim to worship an ancient God named Sleep, and their songs are all “Tokens” offered to him. 

Alright, let’s dig in. The album kicks off with “Chokehold,” which does exactly that, grabs you by the throat. A haunting melody, followed by a piano, then kicking into a towering pulsing riff, all covered by Vessel’s ethereal vocals. It literally gives me goosebumps. This is a good intro to his vocal style that can seem unnerving at the beginning; he has a tendency to hold words in awkward places and uses diphthongs more effectively than I’ve ever heard. 

We move on to first single, “The Summoning,” which came out in January and has shot the band’s popularity through the roof. The band went from 150K monthly listeners on Spotify to over 2M on the strength of this opus before the album is even launched. It starts off with a riff that marries elements of Tool and Deftones while Vessel summons his inner Sam Smith. It shouldn’t work, but it does. And then the song just ends in a funk breakdown that is just way sexier than a metal song has any right to be. It’s insane that the transition doesn’t even seem out of place. It should, but it’s so well done that you’re sitting there nodding your head one second, and then you’re grooving the next, and you don’t even notice what happened. 

“Granite” and “Aqua Regia” then come in to highlight the softer, poppier side of the band, with songs that could fit in on adult contemporary radio. They’re beautiful compositions that only slightly bend into rock.

And as you’re sitting there, comfortably enjoying the ether, “Vore” comes and swats at you like a wild animal. We get our first taste of Vessel’s growls that bring me back to early Bring Me the Horizon. It’s a gt punch reminding you never to get too comfortable and to expect anything.  

“Ascensionism” then comes back to a mellower sound. It’s a piano ballad with occasional trap beats and a monster-heavy guitar breakdown because why not? 

“Are You Really Okay?” is next, with a folky acoustic guitar musing while Vessel delivers vocals that wouldn’t be out of place next to a Hozier song. A feeling that carries through to “The Apparition.”

Then you’re hit with the extremely poppy “DYWTYLM,” which mixes in 80s pop influences with a modern beat and funkier vocals. This was just released as a single before the album and has the potential to crossover into mainstream success for the band. 

Now we need to talk about the title track, “Take Me Back To Eden.” Have you ever found yourself wanting to listen to 9 different genres of music but only had 8 minutes to do so?  Yeah, this is the track for you then. Piano ballad, check. Vessel rapping, check. Power ballad, check. Gutteral screams with a face-melting riff, check. There are other influences thrown in throughout, but again, they make it work. Transitions that should be awkward aren’t. It all flows. 

The album ends triumphantly on the beautiful “Euclid,” which is a dreamy and uplifting little piano number that sets you down gently as you’re getting off this roller coaster that brought you to every corner of the musical psyche. 

Honestly, I don’t smoke, but I feel like I need a cigarette after this. It came into my mind, and just rummaged around every corner, searching for musical memories and took them. Sure, I hit play and invited it in, but there are boundaries it crossed. 

This album could be huge, not just for Sleep Token, but for metal. Much like Korn and Limp Biizkit made a nice little rampway to bring metal into the mainstream twenty-five years ago, I feel like the same is happening again. I feel like Bring Me The Horizon is opening that pathway, and Sleep Token is headed headstrong down that road and expanding it. They could just as easily wind up headlining rock festivals as playing more mainstream festivals like Coachella or Osheaga. The band’s new material is just in its infancy, and “Chokehold” is already being covered live by radio rocker Daughtry and scream king Will Ramos of Lorna Shore. They’re getting exposure everywhere. 

I don’t think Sleep Token cares what genre you try and lump them into. They’re just going to forge forward, doing their thing and expanding wherever they see fit. I can’t wait to see where this album takes them and where this band goes next. 

Richard Brunette

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