According to press blurb: "The mortal representatives of the ancient deity known only as ‘Sleep’, Sleep Token are led by the masked and cloaked figure appointed ‘Vessel’. Encountering Sleep in a dream, Vessel was led by a promise of glory and magnificence and as a result endowed with a voice not of this Earth." Okay, this bunch are playing the age-old mysticism card. And masked identities with a backstory. Whatever their motive for doing so, it could be read, transparently, as a blatant attempt to stir intrigue through means of ambiguity and mystery. We're all suckers for that, right? Whether or not we're still living within the Information Age (a philosophical debate not to be had within the scope of this review), it's an indubitable given, for many, that the internet has killed the illusion of mystery; at least for those who seek all manner of readily available, easily accessible info. And if the integrity of such information is unquestioned, an individual's sense of mystery will still be debunked within their own reckoning, by either factually correct knowledge or through a quick Wiki hit of misleading rubbish. Therefore, there is a part of me that admires creative forces that are able to maintain and preserve the idea of hidden identity within the context of their art. Even if it is deployed as an attention-seeking ploy to attract folks to your craft.
Little is known about Sleep Token. Even their nationality remains a mystery (not that it matters... apart from 'Country of Origin' purposes above this review). So, apart from a sense of mysticism engendered by the band's backstory, Sleep Token can only be experienced purely as a musical force. I'm guessing this might even be a point they're making here. Perhaps they want to be judged solely on their creative output rather than who they are, and are naturally placing people who encounter their music into such a position.
Press blurb mentions Leprous, Agent Fresco, Bon Iver, and Meshuggah as reference points for Sleep Token's inspiration, but this is way too simple (and misleading, it could be argued). The highly charged emotions and tonal range inherent in the clean voice of 'Vessel' could be likened to Einar Solberg... particularly his falsetto delivery... but these are two distinct voices we're dealing with here. Likewise, there are a few djent flavours and a bit of down-tuned heaviness à la Meshuggah... but, Sleep Token sound nothing like Meshuggah. Actually, if you want a more accurate comparison, then the general feeling and compositional structures are more similar to Khoma than any other band that comes to mind. Either way, the three tracks on this EP are heavy on melancholy during their long-passages of gentle, slow-burning builds, which are punctuated by bursts of heavy aggression in explosions of emotional ejaculate. And it's great! Nuff said.
Review by Mark Holmes
21st July 2017
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the three tracks on this EP are heavy on melancholy during their long-passages of gentle, slow-burning builds, which are punctuated by bursts of heavy aggression in explosions of emotional ejaculate."