“I’m a winged insect, you’re a funeral pyre“
Despite them plying their unique trade for six fascinating years now, 2023 has been the year where the planet really sat up and took notice of Sleep Token. Adored and endured in equal measure by those who are enamoured and confused by their mystery and mystique, it is a testament to sticking to their guns that has allowed them to become such a point of contention in the metal community.
From gaining virality at the top of the year to selling out their biggest-ever shows on both sides of the Atlantic, Take Me Back To Eden is easily the most hotly-anticipated full-length of the year so far. It’s a good thing that Vessel and the gang aren’t ones for letting the side down, as it deserves every inch of praise that will be chucked its way from now until forever.
The likes of the seductive “Chokehold” and funk-riddled “The Summoning” have already made their way into the alternative consciousness in the build-up to the record’s release, sitting on the heavier side of the band’s talents. But it’s in the more tender and surprising moments that they really shine. “Aqua Regia” bubbles with cheeky confidence, whilst “Are You Really Okay?” and “DYWTYLM” let the mask slip with heartfelt intent. “Ascensionism”, the first of two 7+ minute epics, leaps and bounds between heavenly vulnerability and apocalyptic beauty, and close “Euclid” is piano-balladry at its most tear-stained and terrifically affecting.
Read more: Holding Absence Announce New Album
That’s not to say there isn’t time for an all-out battery, though. “Vore” feels like having your skin peeled off your bones piece by piece, and “Granite” builds to the sort of conclusion that feels like concrete hitting your temple. And then there’s the title track, the audio equivalent of meeting your maker and staring them down with all your strength. It’s the ebb of flow of power and passion, sadness and savagery, that sets the band apart. A control over catharsis and callousness that very few have a handle on. A reminder that Sleep Token don’t just march to the beat of their own drum. They control the whole fucking procession.
Take Me Back To Eden will go down as the moment that Sleep Token went from “if you know, you know” enigmas to global metal superstars. A record as destructively dense as it is thrillingly ambitious, it is the culmination of a journey unlike any other. A flag in the ground for doing things your own way, reaping all of the rewards and not letting anybody push you off your path. Effortlessly human yet still wonderfully otherworldly, theirs is a universe that has still only had its surface scratched, and such sights they still have to show you. Whether you have been on the ride for five years or five minutes, the prospect of what the future could hold should be enough to send shivers up your spine.
Buy it, Stream it, or Skip it?: Worship it. You know you want to.