Live Review: Sleep Token at The Metro, Sydney – Saturday 29 April 2023

Review and photos by Krista Melsom – kristabellaphotography

Full disclosure. Prior to the tour announcement, I had never heard of Sleep Token. However, when their tour announcement flooded my social media, I was intrigued and decided to request to cover the gig. BEST. DECISION. EVER. I left the venue in a state of euphoria, my mind still trying to comprehend what I had just witnessed and experienced. Gather around, get comfy and let’s dive into what was likely one of the best concerts I’d ever been to. 

Upon entering the venue, I was met with a scene I was all too familiar with – a crowded room of metal-heads singing random pop songs at the top of their lungs to pass time until the band took the stage. Although I was slightly disappointed I didn’t hear the usual “You’re the voice” by John Farnham, I was quite pleased to hear “ I want it that way” by Backstreet Boys and “Hey Baby (if you’ll be my girl” by DJ Otzi. 

The stage was illuminated with blue light and gradually filled with a thick haze of smoke. All instruments concealed beneath draped cloths. The atmosphere was electric, the crowd abuzz with anticipation and excitement. When the first cloth was removed, a deafening cheer erupted and continued until the lights went out. Lead singer, Vessel crept out from the shadows to the centre of stage, his masked and hooded figure silhouetted by smoke and backlighting. The rest of the band joined him, including three cloaked back up singers that would remain motionless for the remainder of the night. The show, or rather ‘ritual’ as their gigs are called, had begun. 

As the band launched into Chokehold, I felt a wave of goosebumps spread across my body and was overcome with a feeling of euphoria. Never in my life has a band made such an immediate impact on me. This was it, the moment I fell in love and vowed that the first thing I would do once I got home was get my hands on their entire discography. 

Without pause, The Summoning kicked in and the crowd erupted. The powerful vocals of Vessel soar over the heavy, progressive rock score, creating an uplifting and otherworldly atmosphere. The energy and enthusiasm of each band member was contagious, spreading through the crowd with intensity song by song. Each song felt like its own grand adventure. Most starting off slowly and subtly, gradually increasing in intensity until it ascended into an apocalyptic-like heaviness. The setlist overflowed with haunting lyrics and intense riffs through songs Hypnosis, Like That, Granite, Nazareth and Aqua Regia. 

As soon as the opening notes of Atlantic were heard, the entire venue enveloped in a reverent hush, with audience members shushing those around them in anticipation of Vessel beginning to sing. It was a beautiful moment to witness. As the end of the night drew near, it became clear to me why shows are referred to as ‘rituals’. It truly feels like I went through a spiritual experience, rather than simply attending a gig. 

Concluding the ritual with The Offering, it is remarkable to note that not one word was spoken by Vessel, or any other band member, between songs. Nevertheless, the bond between band and crowd was unmistakable. 

Sleep Token, you had me at the first song, now you have me for eternity. I cannot wait for the next ritual.