Just who are Sleep Token? Rock’s latest mystery band have created an aura and a mystique, which is still keeping fans guessing. But in the absence of any real clues, we’ll just have to take them on merit and let the music do the talking. Assuming that we would all recognise these musicians, should they unmask, Sleep Token are holding all the aces here in Cardiff: covering up their identities allows a certain amount of creative freedom that other supergroups just don’t have.
Not that any of this matters to the assembled crowd tonight at Cardiff University tonight. The band take to the stage in their trademark robes, bathed in very atmospheric red/blue lighting, and launch into Mine: a track that gets the crowd swaying along to its electro-rock swagger. Jaws is up next, and it’s becoming clear that singer Vessel’s gorgeous vocal talents are the power behind the band as the track is brought to its crushing climax.
As the band power through a set culled mainly from their latest album This Place Will Become Your Tomb, the overriding word that comes to mind when watching the band is “emotion.” There are whole groups of people who seem genuinely overcome with the beauty of some of these tracks and the live performance that’s being delivered to them. Vessel aside, the band create a very sombre atmosphere with synths and clever drum work, backing up guitars that veer from beauty to brutality with surprising ease.
The group then dive a bit deeper with three back-to-back tracks from 2019’s Sundowning – namely Higher, The Night Does Not Belong To God and The Offering – before Vessel brings proceedings to a close all by themselves, just one person and their guitar, with a beautiful rendition of Missing Limbs. Whoever Sleep Token are, they have a batch of wonderfully crafted tracks as well as a very passionate fanbase. Who are Sleep Token? It doesn’t really matter.
Y Plas, Cardiff University Students Union, Fri 19 Nov
words CHRIS ANDREWS photos HANNAH NICHOLSON-TOTTLE