MeSomething magical is happening inside Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo. Thousands of black-clad fans stand in awe of the group of cloaked, masked, barefooted musicians smeared entirely in black paint. The stage is simply and elegantly decorated, with ferns and backlighting alternately shining softly, and then brightening violently as the music rises.
The band’s frontman, known only as Vessel, is always on the prowl. It’s in stark contrast to his three cloaked backing singers on the left side of the stage. Vessel’s voice is rich and sonorous with a soulful timbre, and hoops that greet a highly capable falsetto could easily pull the veil of his humility down. But he is just as obsessed with the performance as the audience is. Vessel doesn’t utter a word between songs, but he seems to start sobbing towards the end of the show.
Aside from the mosh pit erupting in the center of the venue, this is no standard metal gig. The band themselves prefer to call it “ritual”. Their audience is a ‘congregation’ rather than a crowd and their social media posts regularly end with the word ‘worship’.Welcome to the world of Sleep Token – a hidden gem of the UK metal underground.
Formed in 2016, the band’s origin story is full of lore. The story goes that Vessel was visited in a dream by an ancient god known as Sleep who promised him “glory and splendor” if Vessel followed him. It is said that there is, but its sound is equally intriguing. Splicing light elements of pop and his R&B into his tuned-down tech, his metal creates a soundscape that’s not only heavy, but strangely approachable.
Of course, countless rock bands have flirted with theatrics, pseudonyms, and anonymity. Despite some comparisons to Swedish band Ghost (although the two bands don’t sound exactly alike), Sleep Token’s theatricality feels more subtle, darker, and richer in detail. It’s an approach that quickly helped him build a cult following, even though they’ve grown beyond his hero status underground. The band, which previously supported Architects, has since become a major headliner in its own right, not to mention the fact that they consistently sell out every show they play.
Sleep Token took things up a notch this month. It began on January 5th when the band released an unannounced, thrilling, riff-grinding new song, “Chokehold,” followed the next day with “The Summoning.” He also released two songs, the R&B-influenced ‘Granite’ and ‘Aqua Regia’, which debuted on Sleep Token’s opening night of his UK tour in Birmingham, before being released back-to-back two weeks later. rice field. New music and touring events have trended the band on Twitter, and Spotify stats have surged from less than 250,000 monthly listeners to a current total of 1.6 million.
One notable Sleep Token fan is Justin Hawkins of The Darkness. Justin Hawkins Ride Again youtube series. “It’s kind of a crossover. If there’s anything that puts prog into the real mainstream, it’s this one,” he said. “This Sleep Token He doesn’t know who Kat is, but they’re done and write big songs. Big, uncompromising songs and I love it.”
The band’s recent rise has been even more surprising due to its organic origins, and their fans have done a lot of the leg work by spreading the word. Once and for all, that was back in 2017, two years before the release of their debut album, ‘Sundowning’. By keeping their identities secret and maintaining silence to maintain their position, Sleep Token’s music has literally spoken for them.
Meanwhile, Sleep Token’s online fan community thrives on Facebook, Reddit, and Discord, analyzing the band’s lyrics, symbolism, and cryptic Easter eggs commonly found in visuals and merchandise. Scarlett Heselwood is one of the most prolific members of the Sleep Token Discord (she is known as “Sundowner”) and has a master her document full of theories and observations about the band. She believes the backbone of it all is Sleep and Bessel’s toxic and violent relationship. Another on this path for running sleep bids.
These online fan communities have been inundated with curious new members in recent weeks. According to moderator Chris Lloyd, more than 1,000 people have joined the Sleep Token Discord since the release of “Chokehold” earlier this month, bringing the overall membership to just over 3,000, although the band’s subreddit welcomes an additional 2,250 members. “Not only has membership increased, but engagement in both communities has increased significantly,” he says. NME“There’s a buzz among the fanbase, with a mix of veterans and people just discovering the band.”
Discord user Dane Shoemaker agrees: But now I can’t even keep up with the number of participants in a day. ”
B.What is it that draws more and more people to Sleep Token? Especially among the four new songs released this month, their unpredictable sense of music gives a sense of unimaginable range) may partly explain it. “The Summoning” is arguably the quartet’s heaviest work: the segue that slams metal into his coda of sexual funk shouldn’t work, but it does.
The anonymity of Sleep Token is shrouded in inevitable mystery. This is a mystery that certain corners of the Internet are desperate to uncover. While it’s easy to believe that Bessell is an otherworldly character, the humanity beneath the mask is clear. can. Especially the heartbreaking tale of love and heartbreak on the 2021 LP ‘This Place Will Become Your Tomb’.
Theories about who Vessel is abound in Metal’s version of Twitter Masked Singer: They often lean towards the idea that Sleep Token is a side project for established singers, from Dan Smith of Bastille to James Arthur. More recently, Don Broco frontman Rob Damiani has been touted for his vocal tone similar to Bessel’s.
Other fans, however, are less concerned with who Vessel is and prefer not to ponder his true identity out of respect for his desire for privacy. “are totally meaningless and irrelevant to me. Their anonymity is sacred,” says Heselwood. “Distancing itself from us as consumers supports the band. It’s not my job to pry into what’s going on in his head to create his art.” I think.”
Ultimately, Sleep Token gives fans a whole world to immerse themselves in if they so desire. It’s a place of escapism and the base of a huge fan community dedicated to exploring the band’s creativity. They share the same enthusiasm as other fandoms, but there are still noticeable differences.
“It’s one of the few fan bases I feel comfortable with because there’s no room for egos,” says US-based fan Destiny Anderson. “Because the band is anonymous, no one is competing for attention or vying for ‘biggest fan’ status. We all participate in the same “ritual” and share the message of Sleep Token. ”
Hazelwood agrees. “Attending live Rituals is an addiction. I have never been happier than being on the barrier in front of Bessel and the rest of the band. It’s so powerful that we’re all out there for the same purpose of being engaged in this joint expression of emotion. ”