Why The Hate?: Sleep Token

Why The Hate?: Sleep Token

Britain's Sleep Token have created a mystique to themselves with their imagery, dynamic genre mixing, anonymity with it's band members and the band's lore. With the release of the band's debut album Sundowning in 2019, the band would infuse elements of post metal, synth pop, shoegaze, progressive metal and alternative music to create a sound of their own. Setting themselves apart from their peers not only musically, but visually with the band's imagery and live performances.

Lead vocalist Vessel

So, why does the metal community not like Sleep Token? Why is their so much backlash and visceral distain for this band? I wanted to dive into this band and figure out why everyone in the metal community is against them, and is it justified? Or, is it just the metal community going against it because its "new" or the "flavor of the week" or that old gem of "not heavy enough". I broke it down into three categories: The Music, Lyrics/Message and The Fanbase. So, let's dive into the mystery and the popularity of this unique and diverse band. Why the hate behind Sleep Token?


Musically, Sleep Token is a diverse and unique band. They are an amalgamation of multiple genres. With elements of alternative metal, dreampop, progressive metal, djent and R&B, the band is not afraid to be eclectic in their sound. Making every song almost unpredictable. One minute it has a heavy Periphery style metal riff and drums, before transforming into a Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran ballad vocally and then an ethereal, almost Deftones like sounding atmosphere.

The band fine-tuned their sound more with their second album This Place Will Become Your Tomb. With better production, this was the band's breakout record. Leading off with the single "Alkaline". Almost having a gothic metal, alternative and djent sound, it was a strong single and a great introduction to the band if you are new to them. The album received multiple 10/10 scores and was on many album of the year lists for 2021. The album also delved further away from the heavier, djent like elements with many of the songs leaning towards a trip-hop, R&B and almost radio-friendly sound to some of their songs. Some sound like they could even appear on modern pop or top forty radio stations with the sound and vocal performance.

The band's most recent record, 2023's Take Me Back To Eden, showed the band go heavier with the song "The Summoning", featuring scream vocals in the first part of the song, before the band begins genre hopping from progressive to pop to djent and back all over the song. The album also featured songs similar to the previous album, trying to almost sound like pop songs or the band's spin on what they consider pop. The album, though features the elements of the heavy, djent sound that many people loved about the band, was reduced even further for certain moments or abandoned for full on pop songs.

Some consider this band a "bait and switch" where they get you into them with their heavier sounding tracks, but then when you listen to the record, it is not what you expected or completely different, which is one of the criticisms of the band. For me musically, Sleep Token is doing something different and interesting with their sound.  There is no other band doing what they are doing, making the band original and something different that makes them stand out from a lot of the modern metal bands out there. An original sound and breathing new life into rock and metal. Musically, they don't deserve the hate.


The band is coated in mystery with the band's anonymity and rare interviews. Sleep Token's origin was conceived in a way that almost justifies the band's unique imagery. Lead vocalist Vessel encountered in a dream an ancient deity known only as "Sleep", promising him glory and magnificence if Vessel followed Him. Every song is considered an offering or a token in the name of "Sleep" hence the band name. The band's lyrics delve into deep messaging of themes of relationships and love, to almost Christian imagery and lyrical themes in the band's artwork and lyrics. Many calling the band a "masked Christian band". Although lyrics and themes are completely up to interpretation, the fans have taken it to many directions and decisions of their own. If this is true, the metal community has interpreted a feeling of preachiness or "a sheep in wolf's clothing" feeling if it is a true Christian lyrical theme. Regarding the relationship themes, some have claimed that the band is "one-note" or don't write anything except about relationship, heartbreak and love. For me, it is impressive if the lyrical themes and imagery the band delivers has listeners putting their own clues together and creating their own relatability to the band's lyrics and themes. Many bands, like Coheed and Cambria for example, incorporate multiple meanings in their storytelling or have double meaning in their lyrical or album themes. Regarding lyrics and message, the hate is not deserved.


The band grew in popularity on social media and word of mouth. Through sites like YouTube, TikTok and Facebook, the band's sound began to span globally and grew in popularity. That is also where the backlash from the metal community came with the fans of the band. Many articles and posts I have found showed the fanbase basically bashing anyone who critiqued the band or gave any criticism to the band. Causing many verbal spouts on sites like Reddit. It unfortunately is a problem that does happen in the metal community, Tool fans for example. I can understand if you really like a band and love the band and want to fully support a band or expand the band's fanbase, but to insult other people for not only listening to your band or not be able to accept criticism of your band is not a good thing. It also makes the metal community look bad, while also making your band's fanbase look bad. Regarding the fanbase and social media, I do think there is some understandable frustration relating to the band.

So, the ultimate question, does Sleep Token deserve the backlash and vitriol the band is receiving? The answer is No. Yes, Sleep Token isn't full on metal and you will probably hear the argument of "aren't metal enough" to many people in the metal community. But again, some great bands aren't full metal or do songs that are out of the normal or change the idea of what metal could be. Bands like Deftones, Alcest, Primus and Sunn O))) have elements of metal or are placed in genres like alternative metal, shoegaze, drone and countless others, but they do their own thing or define their sound to make the genre and music their own. Sleep Token is a good band, maybe not for everyone and that is ok. It's ok to not like EVERY metal band out there, but it's not ok to bash people for liking them. Not only are you being a straight-up douchebag and an elitist, but you are making us in the metal community look bad or give a stigma to us and that is not cool. Sleep Token doesn't deserve all the hate it is getting, and maybe the elitist gatekeepers need to stop blocking the door and let the metal community hear the band and make the decision on their own.

Do you agree with me? Do you think Sleep Token doesn't deserve the hate the band is getting? Vote down below and see where you and fellow metalheads agree or disagree. Also, post on our social media with your honest thoughts of the band. If you like this feature and would like us to do other bands or albums, let us know and we can continue this idea.

Backlash for Sleep Token Deserved? - Online Poll - StrawPoll.com
What’s your opinion? Vote now: Yes, No…

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