Album Review: Sleep Token – Take Me Back to Eden (2023 LP)

UK alt-metal juggernauts Sleep Token have today revealed their highly-anticipated new record, Take Me Back to Eden, via Spinefarm. The enigmatic quartet have acquired a enormous devoted fanbase in recent years who ‘worship’ at their ‘rituals’ worldwide, including a sold-out Australia tour last month – without supports.

Fronted by the masked Vessel, Sleep Token further expand their sound with their third album, exploring elements of metalcore, orchestral and even funk music. With an epic runtime of over an hour and many of the 12 tracks surpassing the five-minute mark, Take Me Back to Eden is the band at their most refined.

Ambiguous opener “Chokehold” sets the tone for the album, with distorted guitar and piano carrying the controlled, emotive vocals. Modern beats are joined by the rest of the band for a huge chorus of beefy riffs and deft drums. At six and a half minutes, “The Summoning” is only the third longest track on the record and could pass for two. A soaring falsetto is spearheaded by groovy chugs and blistering screams before ethereal pads lead to a funky bassline with fuzzy guitar.

“Granite” blends lo-fi stylings with progressive metal for a dynamic singalong on the album’s shortest track and most accessible single. Following this is the tender “Aqua Regia”, a jazzy dysfunctional love song of delicate keys and smooth vocals that leaves you an unwitting victim to the fervent “Vore”. After being put at ease by the former, this standout track instantly hits with searing riffs, pummelling drums and harsh screams then moves into a more melodic second half.

At the halfway point, “Ascensionism” slows things down with Vessel’s moving vocals over a gorgeous piano piece and contemporary programming. At four minutes, the song rips into heavy passages and gets gloomy, encompassing everything the album has to offer in one track. This is a nice segway to the provocative “Are You Really Okay?”, which has more of a folk feel to the guitarwork with an uplifting tone. “The Apparition” has an ominous melody swimming through 808s and washed out drums until a busy bridge with distant harmonies.

In the last third of the album, “DYWTYLM” is a soft pop track with bubbly synths and interesting textures to contrast the pensive lyrics. Getting back to trademark Sleep Token, “Rain” shines with punchy delivery and intricate rhythms after a gentle opening. The title track – and album’s longest at over eight minutes – “Take Me Back to Eden” is a sonic journey that changes between cinematic sections, steady grooves, melodic rapping, powerful hooks and screams that unusually fades out in a breakdown.

Finally, “Euclid” wraps the record up with a simmering piano melody and acapella breaks that build to a climactic bridge with the full band in a sad singalong. While this track is not as technical or dynamic as the earlier songs on the album, it brings everything to a peaceful end as if the band has traversed the human experience and can now rest in Eden. The mysterious entity that is Sleep Token have delivered a truly unique work with Take Me Back to Eden that will inspire many to break boundaries and rethink what a heavy band can be.