Sleep Token – Take Me Back To Eden (Album Review)

Sleep Token Take Me Back To Eden

Sleep Token – Take Me Back to Eden
Released: May 19th, 2023


Vessel | vocals, keyboards, guitars
II | drums
III | bass
IV | guitars, backing vocals



Fresh off the back of a completely sold out headline tour of Australia (our Perth coverage here), Sleep Token are preparing for the next phase of their imminent world takeover, in the form of their third LP Take Me Back To Eden. Worldwide worship has reached a fever pitch in the last five months with 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, six singles and accompanying demonic entities released sporadically over the time period. Now, everyone’s appetite will now finally be satiated with this complete release, which is the third and final in a planned trilogy preceded by 2019’s Sundowning and 2021’s This Place Will Become Your Tomb. With melodies that tug at the heartstrings, introspective lyrics that cause one to reflect, and metallic guitars that give the experience a cathartic edge, Take Me Back To Eden pushes the envelope on what Sleep Token can do, and indeed what heavy music as a whole can do.

We were initially blessed with lead single ‘Chokehold in January earlier this year, as the garbled synthesiser arrangement drew us out of the depths of ‘Missing Limbs’ to drop us into Eden. The production by Carl Bown has a beautiful polish to it which takes Vessel’s already incredible arrangements to a higher level, with an atmosphere so thick and ethereal that you can feel it on your skin as you listen. And not even 24 hours later did the world bear witness to ‘The Summoning’, whose vicious breakdowns and rug-pull ending of fretless bass and soul vocals set the internet on fire and to this day, has been streamed over 33 million times on Spotify. Follow up single ‘Granite’ brought us the R&B energy we’ve previously experienced on tracks like ‘Dark Signs’ albeit with a lyrical approach which now has Vessel standing up for himself instead of resorting to self-deprecation, which serves as foreshadowing for the overall tone which this album seems to take. ‘Aqua Regia’ brings the dynamics down a shade with a thick synth bass line underneath a minimalistic drum and piano arrangement that allows Vessel to showcase his voice and ability to tickle the ivories. ‘Vore’ is a sharp left turn into blackgaze territory as V performs his most vicious, spine-chilling screams alongside II’s monolithic barrage of rapid-fire drumming which pokes through the immense wall of heavy guitars, and the band strike a beautiful balance of thunderous darkness and moody, cathedral-like ambience as Vessel contemplates being swallowed whole or entirely consumed by, presumably, Sleep.

‘Ascensionism’ can only be described as a seven-minute rollercoaster ride which shows just how much sonic territory the album covers as a whole. Painful, melancholy pianos make way for Vessel’s delicate, emotional vocal performance, and as the atmosphere builds, we’re suddenly thrown into a deep electronic beat as Vessel breaks into rapping with such personality and charisma that this new element feels so at home in its environment. As the tension builds up on the back of this verse, we’re launched into the band’s signature breakdowns, then heartbreaking pianos before a final onslaught just beats you into the ground. On a drastic contrary, ‘Are You Really Okay?’ perfectly epitomises the word “worship”. With its bright clean guitars captaining an uplifting, almost inspirational ballad laden with beautiful sadness. Vessel’s lyrics have always had an esoteric nature to them, with their main selling point being songs for Sleep, but there’s always something deeper for anyone to latch onto, be it a cathartic letting go of a past love, or in this case, a desperate plea to a loved one struggling with mental illness to not hurt themselves again. ‘The Apparition’ initially appears to follow a similar structure to its preceding track but vocal harmonies give way to a gradual metamorphosis from clean guitars to a sharp synth and 808s, before we’re brought back to familiar territory of eight-stringed breakdowns. ‘DYWTYLM’ initially divided fans upon its release due to its sparse production but it has grown into a song greater than the sum of its parts that begs the listener to love themselves for who they are. ‘Rain’ is absolutely guaranteed to be a clap-along track at future live shows with its infectious groove, soaring chorus and repeated refrain of “Rain down on me.”

Epic title track ‘Take Me Back To Eden’ is the companion piece to ‘Ascensionism’, structurally speaking. The eight-minute epic sits us right in the middle of the Garden, as Vessel croons underneath distorted birdsong before lifting us up with more rapping of probably the most grounded lyrics he’s written about his mental state while spreading the word of Sleep across the world, and the consequence of what you have to leave behind. There’re a few musical Easter eggs strewn throughout this record, but probably the first/most obvious one is as the track reaches its end, we’re taken back to the beginning of the record as the opening to ‘Chokehold’ is sung, lifting the climax up before Vessel gives us one final scream as the band bludgeons you in the head with the heaviest, most disgusting breakdown they’ve ever written.

Carrying on the tradition of having their penultimate track be a monumental climax before we’re treated to one final denouement, ‘Euclid’ is a bittersweet but ultimately hopeful track that marks change for the band, as from a visual standpoint, the final demon in the Rogue’s Gallery of Eden appears to have cut Vessel’s head off, and the figure – who’s mask bears a stylistic resemblance to the original – looms menacingly with a bloody dagger. Whether it be stylistic or aesthetic, whatever change lies beyond shall remain a mystery as the album draws to a close, and we’re tearfully called to reflect on the last five years of Sleep Token, and to look forward to what lies in wait.

Take Me Back To Eden is a beautiful work of experimentation that pays off in the greatest way possible, resulting in an incredibly emotional, layered and musically complex record with something for everyone aboard the hype train, and those yet to climb aboard.


Sleep Token Take Me Back To Eden

Sleep Token – Take Me Back To Eden tracklisting:

  1. Chokehold
  2. The Summoning
  3. Granite
  4. Aqua Regia
  5. Vore
  6. Ascensionism
  7. Are You Really Okay?
  8. The Apparition
  10. Rain
  11. Take Me Back to Eden
  12. Euclid

Rating: 10/10
Take Me Back to Eden is out Friday via SpinefarmRecords. Pre-order here.
Review by Oliver Midson (@OliverMidson)