Sleepwalker (夢遊病者) Share Powerful Avant-Garde Black Metal On New Release

Sleepwalker — otherwise known as 夢遊病者, which is the apparently Japanese version of the name — pack a shimmering tapestry of avant-garde black metal on their hypnotizing new record, Noč Na Krayu Sveta, which translates (seemingly from Slovenian) as “Night at the Edge of the World.”

The record is profoundly disorienting, like it sonically captures a moment of the dissolution of any lingering feelings of psychological safety and subsequently plays the experience on repeat like an ominously inexplicable time loop. The music feels like a grim reverie, but it’s not quite celebratory — instead, it’s more like a ritual enacting a caustic metaphysical state, as though falling into some kind of trance while otherworldly flames spread.

The two track record features 29 minutes of sprawling music, with exactly 14 and a half minutes of formidable sound on each song. The music moves between straightforward black metal riffing, a vibrant palette of non-Western instrumentation, unsettling noisy ambiance, and more. Often, diverse elements roll out in unison — consistently, the sound feels quite full, and the transitions and connections between the strikingly diverse components feel remarkably smooth, considering the dizzying mixture on display.

Mostly, the tracks stick to an intense but meditation-like tempo, at least compared to how quickly moving that more of the music could be, and the sonic leaps proceed without much of a hitch.

Track one, called “Boundless Love/ Resilience,” features particularly stark percussion, and the rhythms seem passionate and driving. Although these more foundational components of the sound sometimes feel buried by the teeming mix, they’re still palpable, and the energy moves the music forward even while the scorching storms of chaos swirl. On that first track, revved up guitars pop up around five minutes in, and that element of the sound evolves into somewhat of a walloping stagger, as though packing the sound of disorienting blasts hitting the earth from up above.

Besides familiar elements like guitars and drums, Noč Na Krayu Sveta also features a bouzouki, quray, oud, trumpet, and more. The sound really never stops — but it’s not entirely menacing. Instead, it’s more like a sudden trip into some bizarrely contorted environment where the ground is constantly shifting. Here, the journey is off-kilter, but there’s an unmistakable allure, and that balance is compelling.

After an abrasive opening including more of those jarringly grandiose guitars, the record’s second track (called Redemption/ Retaliation) gets into some doomjazz, with temporarily mellowed out riffing, slowed down percussion, and a general hazy atmosphere, like a musical reflection of billowing smoke. After that segment, the intensity promptly spikes again — but while scorching, the music is for the most part not necessarily suffocating.

Sleepwalker sound like they’ve established themselves as musical explorers of stormy states of consciousness, and the journey — while foreboding — feels whimsically open-ended and refreshing.

Noč Na Krayu Sveta is available via Sentient Ruin Laboratories.

5/5 Stars

Listen to the album below!