Through a melting pot of experimentation, discordance, and metamorphic resonance, Skopofoboexoskelett manifests its own grounds of sonic extremity.

Release date: August 4, 2023 | Sentient Ruin Laboratories | Bandcamp

A jarring collective hailing from Osaka, Japan, 夢遊病者 (aka Sleepwalker) signify the more abstract and intoxicating sides of the heavy music underground. Utilising psychedelic black metal as their foundation, the band are able to conjure sonic realms of discordant eccentricity that borrows from elements of extreme metal, free jazz, neo-classical, post-rock, no-wave, psychedelic rock, and gothic rock. Active since 2015, Sleepwalker have released four studio albums since 2017 under Oakland, CA record label Sentient Ruin Laboratories, along with a number of singles and splits with some equally sinister sounding artists like Sutekh Hexen (USA) and חושך, aka Choshech (Israel). Proving that they remain to be one of the underground’s most elusive and tangible musical projects lurking in the deep realms of heavy music’s endless cyber-connective boundaries, 夢遊病者 deliver some fresh material on their most recent EP release Skopofoboexoskelett in what could elevate them to further enticed audiences.

There’s a lot to unpack from just four tracks when you’re dealing with a band of such an extended sonic palette, especially when each track utilises a vast scale of stylistic divisions that have been carefully implemented by a range of artists and performers coming from numerous backgrounds in extreme metal, jazz, classical and folk music. Diving into the first track “Mirrors Turned Inward”, this is a heavily dissonant black metal track with multiple jarring characteristics that are reverberated through the harsh chord changes, abrupt jazz guitar improvisations, and nightmarish orchestral textures that send the listener down a spiral of disillusion. There are multiple accompaniments to make this piece more sinister, such as the blackened jazz tremolo riffs and the indistinctive vocal passages that weave in and out.

“Silesian Fur Coat” takes things into a whole other domain, with this slow, delta blues intro resonating from the guitars, swallowed in a dark, swampy death dream. This, coupled with a handful of Eastern style melodies, delivers a rather exotic and mysterious ambiance. What appears most impressive about this track is the way in which it is able to blend both Western and non-Western sounds together through an underlying theme of ominousness and dissonance that carries the backbeat of the piece.

The third track on the album “The Eagle Flies” is evidently the shortest track on this EP, yet it wastes little time in proceeding with these globally expressive folk timbres and harmonies particularly through the tribal percussive rhythms and wind instrumentation. The doomy overdrive of the guitars breathe a sense of foreboding horror and mystique that builds onto the next track “The Bad Luck That Saved You From Worse Luck”. This final track is a much more accessible than the opening, yet it maintains that dark abstraction throughout. A post-rock influenced introduction opens with psychedelic melodies and soundscapes that soon are met with these watery vocal growls and loops of feedback that send you forwards in time to an endless realm of oblivion.

A true catalyst for creativity through progressive means of musicianship, those who are fans of extreme metal’s more chaotic, psychedelic and abstract tendencies, such bands as Imperial Triumphant and Oranssi Pazuzu spring to mind, 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) are one to keep an eye on. It’s quite impressive that through just a four track an EP alone this band have demonstrated their craftmanship so elusively and expansively encompassing a whole range of genres, techniques, and regional sounds with finesse. 夢遊病者 are therefore proof that there is much to be discovered when fishing deep down into the extreme music underground, a vast ocean of sonic possibilities await those who are eager enough, and brave enough, to explore.

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