Review Summary: One step forward, a half step back
Let’s discuss the elephant in the room: Sleep Token has a very distinctive sound due to their vocalist despite some lackluster songwriting. They have a superb voice, but your mileage will vary due to the theatrics. The band’s 2019 debut, Sundowning
, was a mixed bag full of excellent tracks and meandering moments that bogged the whole package down. Though the anonymous British band’s new effort, This Place Will Become Your Tomb
, is an overall better record, it still suffers from the sameness that has permeated through the band’s discography.
Electronics and synths have a stronger emphasis on this record, and it’s easily one of the highlights. Slower moments pack a bigger punch and the vocal effects (“Fall For Me” and “Descending”) add a bit of flavor that was missing on prior outings. The production is another upgrade, but it can get a bit overproduced at moments.
The entire record takes a more slower approach than I would’ve liked, but it does help highlight the heavier moments a bit more when taken in as a whole. Still, I would’ve liked more of a focus on guitar and drums since the band does them so well. “Hypnosis”, “Alkaline”, “Descending”, and “Telomeres” are the best tracks here due to their songwriting variety and execution.
“Descending” is a fully electronic pop track that flows effortlessly, while “Hypnosis” immediately brings it up to 11 with an immersive blend of guitar effects, chest pumping drums, and memorable riffs. “Alkaline” is an addictive track that most resembles Sleep Token’s signature build to an epic finale. The chorus is the ear-worm of the record. “Telomeres” blends the slower side of the band with a post-rock riff and excellent guitar work that outshines most of the record with its variety.
“Mine” is another standout that showcases some of the best synth work from the band. “High Water” has an excellent emotional outro that might’ve worked better near the midpoint of the record. The closer, “Missing Limbs” feels so unnecessary though. We have a handful of slower tracks on this album, and the incorporation of an acoustic guitar ballad does nothing for me here. It does showcase the versatility of the band’s vocalist, but so does the rest of the record.
The biggest issue with the record is you know where the whole song is going nearly 30 seconds in every time. “Atlantic”, “The Love You Want”, and “Distraction” are dull tracks that do nothing for the entire body of work. They aren’t necessarily bad, but they sound like they could’ve easily been released on Sundowning
. They highlight the growing weariness some Sleep Token fans might feel upon repeat listens: the band sometimes feel like a one trick pony. The trick is a fun one, but for how long?
This Place Will Become Your Tomb
is like getting a full bag of candy after a night of trick or treating. You’ll get a handful of your favorite candies, but then you have this handful of Mounds you wish you could just swap out for more Snickers. With this record, Sleep Token gives us a bit of what we wanted, a bit of what we didn’t know we wanted, and an unfortunate bit of stuff we never wanted to begin with. I just hope we get a more cohesive effort that capitalizes on the band’s strengths next go around.