20 greatest SLEEP TOKEN songs | Revolver

20 greatest SLEEP TOKEN songs

The best of the best from heavy music's mysterious breakout stars
sleep token vessel 20 songs USE THIS 1600X900, Andy Ford
photograph by Andy Ford

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Sleep Token blend genres like nobody else. It's come to be one of their defining traits.

While scores of bands have attempted to collage the high-octane sounds of rock and metal with a wealth of other styles, the masked U.K. quartet do so in a way that's truly singular and instantly recognizable.

While they've only been an active band for less than a decade, this approach has already yielded a discography that's unusually expansive and diverse.

From the outset, Sleep Token dealt primarily in progressive djent metal, with shades of ethereal R&B and gentle yet glossy mid-2010s pop. Eventually, other elements — from trap to jazz — crept in, as well. Altogether, their music resists any kind of genre classification, as the group's sound has continued to morph and expand from album to album.

Of their three full-lengths so far, 2019's Sundowning is a hazier, softer record (though the blazing nu-metal groove of "Gods" and gritty djent of "The Offering" provide notable punctuation); 2021's This Place Will Become Your Tomb is louder, more guitar-based and more streamlined; and 2023's Take Me Back to Eden is the most far-reaching and experimental, somehow both heavier and lighter than its predecessors.

Another defining aspect of Sleep Token's music is their capacity for heart-piercing, all-consuming emotion. Throughout their catalog, and across the story it tells about singer Vessel's turbulent relationship with the mysterious deity Sleep, the vocalist is enraged, frustrated, lovelorn, desperate, devoted, wounded — or maybe many of those things at once.

While relaying a fictional story, Sleep Token's lyrics speak to more than just one man and one god — they're open-ended enough that the listener can insert their own experiences if they wish, and create their personal interpretations. Vessel's story, is, ultimately, a universally human one.

As such, every fan will have a different list of Sleep Token's greatest songs, but these are our 20 favorites. Dive in and worship.

20. "Nazareth"

Two EP, 2017
Don't be deceived by the serenity of "Nazareth"'s soft beginning. Its initial minimalism is an intriguing backdrop for some of Vessel's most sinister lyrics, particularly the bone-chilling passage where someone conspires to "make her eat tape in the bathroom mirror/See if she can guess what a hollow point does to a naked body/Let's fuck her up."

Then, without warning, the song explodes into a vibrant, full-bodied finale in a way that's unanticipated but never jarring. In that sense, "Nazareth" epitomizes the dichotomy at the center of Sleep Token's M.O. — creating a sense of beauty entangled with horror.

19. "Dark Signs"

Sundowning, 2019
Though Sleep Token are always keen to toy with mainstream sounds, "Dark Signs" leans further into those sensibilities than most of Sundowning's other songs.

The click and whirr of trap drums loom large, as do the glistening electronics, until the track segues into grittier, rockier echelons — a pivot that would become the band's trademark structural maneuver going forward.

Meanwhile, although Vessel's lyrical approach is usually more poetic in nature, "Dark Signs" cuts as deep as it does because he leaves no room for ambiguity: "I miss the man I was," he curses. "I hate who I have become."

18. "Jaws"

Non-album single, 2018
Like "Nazareth," "Jaws" is one of Sleep Token's earliest songs, but it still holds up years later — and even appears in their setlist from time to time. Released before any of their albums, the standalone single sows the seeds of what was to come, with a palette of chunky percussion, squalling synths and snarling riffs.

Also foreshadowing the band's future are Vessel's lyrics, in which he explores the same blurring of love and malice that would become a recurring theme in Sleep Token's unfolding story.

17. "The Night Does Not Belong to God"

"The Night Does Not Belong to God" is drenched in a feeling of reverence. It's both subtle and somehow vast, especially in its thinner-sounding passages. Even the electric guitar only takes up a modest amount of space, appearing as a mere undercurrent of the surrounding composition.

Apt for a band who explore the theme of worship and inspire worship from their fans, the song has the ethereal quality of music that might be sung in church. Some parts, especially in the second verse where Vessel croons, "The whites of your eyes/Turn black in the lowlight," sound choral.

The album opener, the song sets a beautiful scene for what follows.

16. "Atlantic"

This Place Will Become Your Tomb, 2021
The ghostly "Atlantic" opens This Place Will Become Your Tomb dislocated from rock music altogether — it's just Vessel and a piano beckoning listeners into Sleep Token's world. The band tend to begin albums by slowly re-immersing listeners into their storyline, which they do here with gradual tenderness — until the djent detonations arrive.

Meanwhile, Vessel sings in a fragile voice one of his most visceral tales. The details are murky — does he speak of injury, self-harm, even suicide? — but his wants are the same as they ever were: "So flood me like Atlantic/Bandage up the trenches/Anything to get me to sleep."

15. "The Love You Want"

This Place Will Become Your Tomb
Appropriately for a song on an album featuring the ocean in its artwork, "The Love You Want" conjures the feeling of being submerged deep underwater. With its aqueous atmospherics and minimalist arrangement — to the point that its bridge is sung practically a capella — its sound is both expansive and lonely until the guitars roar to life.

Vessel's vulnerable lyrics are front and center, as he implores the closed-off Sleep to open up and accept his faithful devotion. In a live setting, the song is especially arresting — particularly since, on multiple occasions, Vessel has been heard sobbing while he sings its final lines.

14. "Granite"

Take Me Back to Eden, 2023
Vessel finds himself boiling over in this confrontational cut from Take Me Back to Eden, in which the friction between him and Sleep begins to build once again. The music accompanying him — at least for the first two-thirds of the track — is icy and stripped-down, comprised of burbling synths and whispering keys.

However, "Granite" has a stinger in its tail. In a particularly dramatic version of Sleep Token's song-of-two-halves formula, first-time listeners will be sorely unprepared for the sudden lurch into heavier territory, as Vessel's frustration mounts and his murmurs become strained cries.

13. "Sugar"

While 2023's "The Summoning" garnered plenty of attention for its lustful lyrics, sexuality had been an important part of Sleep Token's artistry for some time. "I've developed a taste for you," Vessel croons on "Sugar," as he paints a picture of devilish manipulation against a backdrop of fluttering, pulsating R&B.

The song is a shining example of how deftly the band can craft a complex narrative, where desire and control tensely shake hands. "My arms keep you in the room," Vessel proclaims, but the romance dissolves when he adds that they "barely let you move."

12. "Blood Sport"

"Blood Sport" brings Sundowning to an anguished conclusion. Beaten down by the push-and-pull of Sleep's toxic power games, Vessel is caught somewhere between exhaustion, frustration and devastation.

At first a lamentation, the song builds, over the trill and swirl of piano, into an outpouring of rage. It's one of Sleep Token's most poignant tracks, in large part due to the potency and multiplicity of the emotions expressed.

Vessel's voice becomes raspy with anger at points, but by its dying seconds, in the album's most moving moment, he's crying.

11. "Euclid"

Take Me Back to Eden
After three albums' worth of twists and turns, "Euclid" brings Sleep Token's trilogy to a sober yet graceful ending. If "Take Me Back to Eden" is the moment where Vessel purges himself of everything weighing him down, "Euclid" feels like he's found equilibrium, almost like he's been spiritually cleansed.

It's a warm goodbye laced with bright piano chords, and its crunching chorus soars with fresh hope. Lyrically, "Euclid" concludes with a beautifully neat, full-circle moment where Vessel returns to some of the lines from Sundowning opener "The Night Does Not Belong to God," once again referencing "the whites of your eyes" that "turn black in the lowlight."

It's the send-off this trilogy deserves.

10. "Alkaline"

This Place Will Become Your Tomb
Vessel is particularly adept at capturing the messy feelings in the gray area between adoration and obsession, and "Alkaline," the lead single from This Place Will Become Your Tomb, is an entrancing example of this.

Our masked protagonist makes poetry out of the language of chemistry as he gropes towards an understanding of an entity that eludes definition, who's "not acid nor alkaline/Caught between black and white/Not quite either day or night." Sonically, the song ascends slowly, its airy synths setting the scene for Vessel's studied contemplation.

Then, as his emotions surge in intensity, so does the music, as the electronics meld with gravelly riffs.

9. "Fall for Me"

This Place Will Become Your Tomb
"Fall for Me" ranks as one of the bravest songs Sleep Token have ever attempted — not because it's an adventurous smorgasbord of genres and ideas, but because it's so incredibly simple. All we hear is Vessel's lone voice, altered with a vocoder, not a single instrument accompanying him.

As a result, it's one of the band's most vulnerable moments. Vessel's pleas for his affections to be returned feel painfully potent, his emotions left completely exposed without the band's usual pop-metal adornments. The song's modesty is captivating, its power effortless.

8. "Aqua Regia"

Take Me Back to Eden
There's nothing else in Sleep Token's catalog that sounds quite like "Aqua Regia." Indeed, there's not even one twang of a guitar string, and during their live Rituals, bassist III and guitarist IV frequently retreat to the side of the stage and sit on the floor together because they aren't needed.

Straddling the divide between sultry R&B and lounge-y jazz, "Aqua Regia" slinks and writhes, its low piano chords and skittering drums crackling with a sensual energy. It's a bold demonstration of just how far Sleep Token are willing to stretch the limits of their sound.

7. "Hypnosis"

This Place Will Become Your Tomb
A murky tale plumbing the depths of yearning and surrender, "Hypnosis" is arguably the heaviest cut from This Place Will Become Your Tomb, but it still possesses an enchantingly delicate touch.

It's propelled by thundering percussion and a central riff that bites hard, creating an undertone of danger, but its siren-like synths conjure an atmosphere that's equal parts foreboding and mesmerizing.

Atop the instrumentation, Vessel's lyrics express a twisted vision of desire — he's willing to be lifted out of his skin, to have everything taken from him. Which begs the question: Is this ordinary human lust, or a morbid obsession?

6. "Like That"

This Place Will Become Your Tomb
A live staple from Sleep Token's second album, "Like That" is a sterling example of the masked musicians' flair for the dark and dramatic, as well as their loud-quiet dynamics.

The sheer volume of the gnashing guitars makes it easy to think of the song as heavier than it really is, but it's actually the contrast with the smoldering, layered verses that gives the song its seismic impact.

As for the lyrics, they reel with passion and surrender ("Fall into your eyes like a grave/Bury me to the sound of your name"), as our narrator falls victim to the intoxication of lust, a motif that's woven into the fabric of This Place Will Become Your Tomb.

5. "The Offering"

Frequently played near the end of Rituals to bring the night to an anthemic close, 2019's "The Offering" lays the groundwork for everything Sleep Token aspired to become.

The elements within it — hulking djent riffs, twinkling electronics, atmospheric verses — would end up becoming foundational pieces of Sleep Token's sound, but the song is also polished and assured enough to never feel like a mere prototype. Similarly, with its overt themes of devotion, "The Offering" is key to understanding Sleep Token's world-building.

4. "Vore"

Take Me Back to Eden
For a metal band, Vessel's gauzy croons give Sleep Token's music a unique sense of restraint, but on "Vore," he screams like he's in agony. It's the band's heaviest song by a considerable margin, with thunderous guitars that strike a violent intensity rarely heard in their discography.

Yet "Vore" still contains gentler moments that let the poignancy of Vessel's heartache shine through, as he declares to an unknown entity — a lover perhaps? — "I wanna have you to myself for once."

It reaches a nadir, however, with its crushing finale, as the heaviness returns in time for him to howl, "Are you in pain like I am?"

3. "Chokehold"

Take Me Back to Eden
Take Me Back to Eden's opening salvo is a piece of slowly unwinding theatricality, its simmering verses leaving listeners disarmed for the weighty riffs that follow. The heavy parts crash down with such spontaneity that even seasoned Sleep Token Worshippers were caught off guard the first time they heard it.

"Chokehold"'s feverish passion and musical shock value immediately made it one of the band's most popular songs. It says something that everyone from Lorna Shore frontman Will Ramos to former American Idol star Chris Daughtry were inspired to cover the song.

These were flattering gestures, of course, but nothing beats the original.

2. "Take Me Back to Eden"

Take Me Back to Eden
While "Euclid" closes the book on Sleep Token's trilogy of albums, "Take Me Back to Eden" feels like the proper conclusion to the album of the same name. The eight-minute epic is the band's most ambitious song, featuring several different movements, like a piece of classical music, and impressively smooth transitions between disparate genres.

It's slow and subdued at first, but then transforms into cocksure trap-pop before circling back to a gentler mood — but only briefly, as the guitars and drums soon come crashing in.

The finale is positively explosive, with Vessel screaming its refrain — "I have travelled far beyond the path of reason/Take me back to Eden" — with earth-shattering fortitude.

1. "The Summoning"

Take Me Back to Eden
Simply put, "The Summoning" is Sleep Token's most important song. Released just one day after "Chokehold" in January 2023, as the world was slowly waking up from a state of post-holiday-season hibernation, the single had an effect on the band's trajectory akin to pouring gasoline on a fire.

Its popularity on TikTok further catalyzed Sleep Token's ascent, and their Spotify streams soared at an astronomical rate. Improbably, the masked, anonymous progressive-metal band had a hit.

Why was "The Summoning" such a sensation?

Musically, it shows a different side of Sleep Token. They cross into genres they hadn't previously explored, and up the ante on the ones they previously mastered. The slashing, down-tuned guitars in its first half are more metallic than their usual output, heightening the contrast with its celestial chorus.

Then it unexpectedly segues into retro funk during its last two minutes, and somehow pulls the startling transition off seamlessly.

Thematically, Sleep Token's lyrics had strayed into sexual territory before, but they feel more overtly hot-blooded on "The Summoning," melding poetic allusions ("I've got a river running right into you") with brazenly carnal imagery ("You've got my body, flesh and bone") — and even an explicit reference to making "a good girl bad."

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