Sleep Token are, according to them, ‘an entity unlike any encountered before’. They are, apparently, the representatives of a deity known as Sleep. They maintain an anonymity similar to that of Ghost (before they all started taking each other to court), with strange marked masks and interviews seemingly just a vessel to convey further information about Sleep. With imagery and feeling like this, one would expect the music to be sickeningly heavy black metal or the like. In actual fact, the ‘entity unlike any encountered before’ is indie music with distorted guitars at the end of every song.
When it comes to genre melding, II falls short of the brilliance shown earlier in the year by Zeal and Ardor. Where the latter fused chain gang chants with black metal in a complex and absolutely unpredictable way, Sleep Token play a very familiar sounding brand of light indie music, with what admittedly is an impressive vocal performance that in Calcutta alone reflects Bon Iver, Caleb Followhill and Thom Yorke. They then end with some down-tuned guitar riffs which, if I’m being honest, lack the invention of their tech-metal label mates at Basick Records. And this formulaic approach is taken religiously on all three tacks to the point where they all sound interchangeable. Perhaps if they hadn’t tried to brand themselves as something totally new and imaginative, this might be easier to take, but with the backdrop to this release being as expansive and otherworldly as it is, a far more diverse and interesting record was expected.