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Tuesday 30 November 2021

A View From The Back Of The Room: Sleep Token (Live Review By Megan Jenkins)

Sleep Token & A.A Williams at Y Plas, Cardiff, 19/11/21

If, somehow over the last year, you haven’t heard of Sleep Token, then you must be living under a rock. They’re a band that needs no introduction to many of today’s modern metal fans, using masks and ‘codenames’ to keep anonymity of its members from the audience.

Upon arriving at Y Plas, I was shocked at the sheer number of people that had turned up. What was once a niche underground band is no more. Support for the night came from A.A.Williams (6), an act that I am genuinely finding it hard to describe. I’m assuming that the name derives from the lead singer and doesn’t represent the entire band that was on stage. I went into this set completely blind and I left it with so many mixed feelings. You can’t deny it, she’s a talented singer and songwriter, it just seemed like the complete wrong choice as the support act for a band whose set would no doubt be full of aggressive moshing. Similar to Sleep Token, she seems to shroud herself in mystery, flooding the stage with smoke to accompany her mystique and broody, slow music. It seemed like an extremely mismatched act for the main event, other than this air of mystery she had on stage.

The crowd weren’t exactly worked up by this and seemed to be getting more and more agitated by the minute. That is until frontman for Sleep Token (9), the Vessel, walked onto stage and started tinkling the keys of a piano that was off to the side, playing the opening notes to Atlantic. He began the set with no aid from the rest of the band and had the entire crowd captivated from the start – no easy feat in itself. The use of masks and anonymity of the band members themselves makes it difficult to sense if they are actually enjoying themselves or not, but they choose to show their expressions through dancing and moving around the stage like there’s no tomorrow, which the audience has no problem reciprocating.

Most of the set was comprised of their brand-new album This Place Will Become Your Tomb, which was not a bad thing at all. Instead of going just with the arguably safer option of playing all new material, they switched to some of the more well-known songs like The Offering and Sugar, the bass heavy breakdowns of which had the entire floor throwing themselves around in pure ecstasy. There’s nothing quite like hearing an audience singing along to a band and hearing them sing to the acapella Fall For Me made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Sleep Token have truly impressed me with their showmanship and the dedicated relationships they have forged with their audience, despite not actually being able to know their identity. Just from the display I saw in Y Plas, I wouldn’t be shocked if by the festival season next year Sleep Token are playing some of the bigger stages to some audiences of impressive stature.

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