Sleep Token are a British rock band from London, England, formed in 2016. The group are an anonymous, masked collective led by a frontman using the moniker Vessel. They have been categorised under many different genres, including alternative metal, post-rock/metal, progressive metal and indie rock/pop. After self-releasing their debut extended play (EP) One in 2016, the band signed with Basick Records and issued a follow-up, Two, the next year. The group later signed with Spinefarm Records and released their debut full-length album Sundowning in 2019, which was followed in 2021 by This Place Will Become Your Tomb. A third album, Take Me Back to Eden, was released in May 2023.
I had the pleasure of covering Sleep Token last year in Las Vegas at the House of Blues. Photos below.
Photos By: Adam Messler
Are You Really Okay?
Take Me Back to Eden
“Chokehold” by Sleep Token is a song that explores the themes of devotion, sacrifice, and self-discovery. The lyrics speak of being bound to someone or something, depicted metaphorically as being in a chokehold. The song suggests that this entanglement is not accidental and is instead part of a greater purpose or duty. The first verse establishes a sense of interconnectedness between the singer and the object of their devotion. The imagery of being “tangled up like branches in a flood” suggests that this connection is inevitable and powerful. The singer portrays themselves as a “sacred guardian” who must be kept sharp and tested in blood, indicating that their duty is one of protection and sacrifice. The chorus repeats the line “you’ve got me in a chokehold,” emphasizing the intensity and inescapability of this connection. The second verse expands on the idea of sacrifice, suggesting that the singer has seen and done extraordinary things in service of their duty. However, they are still willing to endure pain and sacrifice for the greater good, even if it means losing sleep and undergoing hardship. The outro repeats the plea to be shown the way despite the potential cost, indicating a willingness to continue the struggle despite its difficulty. Overall, “Chokehold” is a song that speaks to the idea of selfless devotion and the trials and sacrifices that come with it.
The song “The Summoning” by Sleep Token is about the idea of being summoned or called to something greater. The lyrics reference a river, a blood trail, and a divine taste, all of which signify a sense of being lead by higher power. The bridge speaks to the possibility of finding something special in a person that can’t be explained, and yet provides a feeling of connectedness and purpose. The overall message of the song is that while life is often difficult, if one listens to their inner voice and opens themselves up to possibilities, they might find something special hidden in the world around them.
The song “Granite” by Sleep Token is a song about strength in adversity. The lyrics talk about someone feeling suffocated by the harshness of their situation, but ultimately deciding to stay strong despite their hardships. The song speaks to the power of standing firm in the face of all that life throws at us and the importance of believing in ourselves despite the odds. The song showcases the narrator’s resolve to remain calm and unshaken, implying that often the best way to survive a difficult situation is by keeping a level head and having faith in ourselves.
Interpreting the lyrics of “Aqua Regia” by Sleep Token, it appears to be a song that deals with the emotional turmoil and inner struggles of the singer. The song seems to convey a message of feeling trapped and fighting internal demons, while also searching for a way out. The first verse suggests that the singer’s love is savage and uncontrollable, cutting through the darkness, bouncing off the walls, and frothing at the mouth. This could be interpreted as the singer’s intense passions, which are difficult to control or manage. The lyrics “putting down the roses, picking up the sword” suggest a willingness to fight for what they believe in, even if it means leaving behind those things they once held dear. The refrain “Aqua Regia” is a Latin term that refers to a highly corrosive mixture capable of dissolving gold. In the context of the song, this could be seen as a metaphor for the singer’s emotional state, which is being dissolved by their overwhelming passion and inner turmoil. The second verse speaks of the singer’s past as a holy book, suggesting past experiences or memories that may have shaped their current emotional state. The lyrics “sugar on the blood cells, carbon on the brain, all of Eden’s vices running through my veins” suggests a sense of addiction or feeling trapped by past choices. The phrase “I’m stuck in a time where the mountains shook” suggests a sense of being trapped in a turbulent or tumultuous period of their life. The chorus speaks of different chemical and physical reactions, suggesting a search for balance or a way to escape from the emotional turmoil. The lyrics “oxytocin running in the ether, silicon ballrooms, subatomic interactions” hint at a desire for a surreal or otherworldly experience. The phrase “running to your heart when you’re thinking of” suggests a yearning for romantic connection. The instrumental break provides a moment of respite before the final bridge and chorus. The bridge speaks of the singer’s exhaustion, having fought off change and danced to the sound of alarm bells. The final chorus repeats the earlier themes of chemical reactions and physical sensations, suggesting a continuing search for escape and emotional equilibrium. Overall, “Aqua Regia” by Sleep Token is a complex song that explores intense emotions and a search for balance. Whether the singer succeeds in finding peace or not is left open to interpretation.
The song “Vore” by Sleep Token seems to be exploring the darker and more taboo aspects of desire and intimacy. The lyrics suggest a desire to be consumed or engulfed by another person, finding solace in their flesh and bone. The opening lines imply an obsession or fixation with someone, even after their death, and a willingness to be consumed by their remains. The pre-chorus asks the question of whether the pain will stop if they go deeper, suggesting that the desire for deeper connection and intimacy may be driven by a sense of pain or emptiness. The chorus seems to express a desire to escape from the limitations of mundane existence, to go somewhere that nobody else will ever go, implying that this intense intimacy is a way of transcending everyday life. The second verse continues with the theme of being swallowed whole, again embracing the image of being consumed by another person. The speaker expresses a desire to have the object of their obsession all to themselves, willing to follow them even into the “jaws of fate.” Overall, the song seems to be a meditation on a desire for intimacy that goes beyond what is socially acceptable or understandable, recognizing the pain and darkness that can drive this kind of desire. The image of being swallowed whole is used as a metaphor for this desire, suggesting a willingness to be consumed by another person as a way of transcending the limitations of individual identity.
The song “Ascensionism” by Sleep Token is about the desire for both redemption and ascension, but at the same time, a longing to escape from reality. The lyrics suggest that the protagonist is searching for a partner who understands them and their dark desires. In the first verse, the protagonist questions who made their partner like this, referring to their dark gospel encrypted in body language. The protagonist desires to be turned into a mannequin, while their partner becomes their puppet queen. In the second verse, the protagonist invites their partner to dance in the dark with them, exploring their deepest desires. They offer a blacklit paradise as an escape from reality, where anything is better than the way they feel. The line “digital demons make the night feel heavenly” implies a cyber world where they can be whoever they want to be. In the third verse, the lyrics speak of a pursuit of pleasure and pain, with references to lipstick, chemtrails, red flags, and pentagrams. The protagonist wishes to leave behind the past and take to the broken skies at last. In the fourth verse, the protagonist acknowledges that their partner desires the same thing they do: redemption and eternal ascension. However, the protagonist also acknowledges their desire to escape from reality by taking what they want and leaving. The outro reveals that the protagonist wishes they could disappear, suggesting that they are struggling with their desires and the reality of their situation. The repetition of “Diamonds in the trees, pentagrams in the night sky” in the bridge and breakdown suggest a desire for a mystical or otherworldly escape. Overall, “Ascensionism” explores the tension between the desire for redemption and ascension and the longing to escape reality.
“Are You Really Okay?” by Sleep Token seems to be a song about concern for someone who is struggling with their mental health. The first verse describes how the protagonist has known this person since they were young and has seen them struggle before. The pre-chorus suggests that the protagonist has been trying to help this person, but it is a difficult battle against the darkness that threatens to overwhelm them. The chorus is a direct question, asking whether this person is really okay, implying that the protagonist can see through any pretense of well-being. The second verse describes a particularly serious incident where the person has harmed themselves, causing physical injury, but also highlighting the emotional pain that they must be experiencing. The second pre-chorus repeats the sentiment that the protagonist wants to help, but doesn’t know how to make it better. The bridge reveals the protagonist’s frustration that they cannot “fix” the person, but they also refuse to accept that everything is truly fine. The outro ends with a plea for the person not to hurt themselves again, underscoring the urgency and seriousness of the situation. Overall, the song is a poignant expression of support and empathy towards those struggling with mental health issues, and a plea for people to reach out for help.
“The Apparition” by Sleep Token seems to be a song about a recurring dream or memory that haunts the singer. The lyrics suggest that the appearance of this “apparition” leaves the singer with a sense of fear and uncertainty, but also with a belief that there was something between them in the past. The lyrics describe the singer’s attempts to make sense of their feelings and the memories that continue to haunt them, even as they try to move on. The chorus repeats the line “somewhere in the past, something was between you and I, my dear” which suggests that there was a significant relationship or connection between the singer and the subject of the song, but it has since ended and left a lasting scar. The refrain “let’s make trouble in the dream world” is a call to action that implies the singer is willing to confront this apparition in order to understand their own feelings. The bridge suggests the singer has tried to move on from the apparition, but it continues to follow them. They are torn between wanting to be free of this haunting feeling and being unable to let go. The refrain repeats, emphasizing the idea of the dream world and memory as a place where the singer and the apparition can interact, and possibly resolve their feelings. Overall, the song seems to be about the conflicting emotions that arise from a past relationship or connection that has left an emotional scar. The singer is unable to forget the feeling of the relationship and struggles with the apparition’s constant appearances in their dreams. The song suggests that confronting this apparition in the dream world may be the only way to find closure.
The song “DYWTYLM” by Sleep Token appears to be about unrequited love and the pain that comes with it. The lyrics pose a series of questions to a person the singer loves, asking if they feel the same way or if they are content to live without reciprocating love. The chorus describes the singer’s struggle to find happiness and self-acceptance while trapped in a relationship where their feelings are not returned. The references to the “waves” and “deep blue safety” may suggest the idea of a turbulent ocean, as the singer feels tossed around and unsafe in their emotions. The line “Maybe not that you conceal your feelings, they just don’t exist” implies that the object of the singer’s affection may not have any romantic feelings towards them, leading to the singer’s feelings of isolation and detachment. In the end, the repetition of the hook “Do you wish that you loved me?” shows the singer’s desperation for the other person’s love and their desire for closure, even if it means being rejected.
The song “Rain” by Sleep Token is about finding redemption and clarity through the love and presence of another person. The lyrics describe how the speaker has been waiting for a long time and feels like a “stoic statue” until they meet someone who changes everything. The person’s smile breaks the vicious cycle that the speaker had been trapped in and they feel like they can finally move forward. The chorus uses rain as a metaphor for the transformative power of this new love. The rain washes away the dust and salt, representing the old emotions and experiences that the speaker is trying to move past. The touch of this person makes the speaker feel like their shadow is dissolving and they are being cleansed with pleasure. The second verse further emphasizes the idea of the speaker being under the spell of this person. They describe the feeling as a “chemical cut” and acknowledge that they are tangled in the person’s trance. The lyrics also suggest that this person has some hold over the speaker’s fate and that they are willing to be saturated by their love. The bridge suggests that there is uncertainty about the future, but the speaker hears this person calling their name. It could be interpreted as a sign that they are on the right path. The outro reinforces the idea of rain as a transformative force and repeats the message that the speaker is seeking redemption and a new beginning through this person’s love. Overall, “Rain” is a song about the power of love to bring about change and help us let go of the past.
“Take Me Back To Eden” by Sleep Token seems to be a song about the deep desire to return to a state of innocence and perfection, represented by the biblical concept of Eden. The first verse talks about diving into perfect oceans and being weightless, but also feeling the need to breathe and losing that weightlessness. The chorus mentions “those eyes like fire”, perhaps alluding to the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the protagonist feeling like a “waking hell” while the gods grow tired. The refrain repeats the desire to return to Eden beyond the path of reason, suggesting an almost irrational longing for a state of purity. In the second verse, the lyrics suggest a struggle with addiction or self-destructive behavior, with the protagonist spitting blood and feeling messed up after the “mainframe went down”. There seems to be a sense of betrayal by people who are not trustworthy, but also a determination to protect oneself and fight back. The line “I need you to see me for what I have become” evokes a desire for validation or acceptance despite past mistakes. The third verse reflects on the idea that we often don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it, and that even the strongest love cannot save something if it is not actively chosen. The lyrics suggest a frustration with a loss of innocence and a willingness to fight back with “self-sought fury”, even though that may not fully restore the desired state of purity. The post-chorus references the idea of being created with intention and purpose, but also the possibility of being swept away like “branches in a flood”. Overall, the song seems to be a plea to return to a state of purity and to be seen and accepted for who we are, even if we have lost our way.
The meaning behind “Euclid” by Sleep Token appears to be about a person struggling with their past and trying to move forward while holding onto a destructive part of themselves. The lyrics suggest that the person may be dealing with addiction, mental health issues, or other personal demons. The opening lines of the first verse describe the person feeling heavy and overwhelmed, looking for a way out by asking for “twilight two-way vision” and “one last ride on a sunset sky lane.” The refrain reinforces their feelings of being trapped and needing someone to reach out to them. The second verse implies that the person is trying to move forward but is haunted by their past and afraid to let anyone in. They view their partner as a source of symmetry and hope, but they fear that their partner won’t understand their struggles. The lyric “hope to god you don’t know this feeling” suggests they are ashamed of their internal struggles and don’t want to burden anyone else. The third verse uses imagery of nature to symbolize change and transformation. The person acknowledges that they are someone new and can no longer hold onto the past. The outro suggests that the person knows they cannot have the person they love but still wants to hold onto the night as a symbol of hope. Overall, “Euclid” appears to be about a person struggling to move on from their past and trying to find hope in the present.