Album review: Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb

Take a journey into an enigmatic heart of darkness with Sleep Token’s follow-up, This Place Will Become Your Tomb…

Album review: Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb
James MacKinnon

Attempting to pin down the sound of Sleep Token is about as difficult and pointless as uncovering the identity of their masked mastermind, known simply as Vessel. One YouTube commenter likened them to “Coldplay’s Chris Martin if he grew up listening to Deftones”. James Blake raised on Slipknot would be a better fit – an idiosyncratic pianist in possession of a deeply emotive voice, coupled with an uncompromising stage presence and clear love for keeping people guessing.

This Place Will Become Your Tomb builds on 2019’s Sundowning, with crunching guitar and booming drums painted in thicker layers this time around. They viciously puncture the gloom on Alkaline, crashing in on the slow-burning synths as Vessel declares, ‘It’s too late for me now – I am altered.’ Hypnosis insinuates itself with a guitar hook that is cut from the same cloth as any Adidas-sporting rocker of 2000, while The Love You Want is a power ballad of stadium-sized ambitions.

Yet amid these visceral, occasionally bombastic tunes, there are genuinely surprises. Mine is a Trojan horse, a lo-fi song of great emotional weight that you could imagine Vessel making in their bedroom (if, indeed, they do sleep). The gentle build from quivering falsetto into explosive synth is as disarming as the lyric, ‘I’m certain that you and I are crashing chords, driven by a holy force.’ In such moments of directness the mask slips and the emotion comes through unfiltered. No melodrama. No quasi-religious gimmickry. Just compelling songs that we can relate to.

Sadly, the rest of the album doesn’t maintain this level of inspiration, and failing to recognise when to wrap up a track still proves to be Sleep Token’s Achilles’ heel. Yet when the planets do align, the results are truly captivating and challenge what rock can sound and look like in 2021.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Loathe, Deftones, Holding Absence

This Place Will Become Your Tomb is released on September 24 via Spinefarm.

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