Sleepwalk - Tempus Vincit Omnia
Dinosaurs still roam the dark, gloomy and oversaturated landscapes of the electro-industrial wasteland. Sleepwalk somehow found a way to endure through the tough times in a new digital age in a genre that seemed to lose its luster many years ago. Sure there are plenty of dark electro outfits delivering some intense blasts of darkness that pique our desire to seek out some misguided form of self-medicated adaptation to a world the forces us into a secluded state while tapped into a place where human interaction has become optional. If your choices lead you to that secluded dark corner, why not medicate with some multilayered authentic dark electro from an ancient beast that once again walks among us. Behold! Sleepwalk returns with a double dose of sonic expressions that pierce and shred like a wind of knives and violently caresses us with the tenderness of a wendigo. There is never a moment of serenity, only the bleak and grim yet beautiful feelings of a vicious well-designed two-hour plus soundtrack that bridges the gap between the past and present. 'Tempus Vincit Omnia' or times conquers all is a perfect name the new double album from veteran electronauts, Sleepwalk.
Sleepwalk has been releasing material since the early 90's. 'Synthetic Force' and ‘Suffer In Silence' cassettes got the band noticed and they released their first album on the legendary Khazad Dum label in 1995. For the most part Sleepwalk released their music via the Scanner label home to lumaries such as Absurd Minds, A Spell Inside, Stromkern and X-Fusion.
Sleepwalk has always been consistent in regards to their approach to music. I've heard enough of their earlier material to sum Sleepwalk up as one of those bands that people like and respect, but there is no one song or album that really stands out as an identity for the band. Sure they have some staples you can easily explore on their 'Retrospect 94-96 (The Early Years)' album, but I never really found any of it addicting enough to revisit all that much. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It could very well be Sleepwalk make above average music with no one track that really stands out. Perhaps all of the tracks are just solid yet similar displays that do not bring too much attention in one place, rather simply spread it over the entire output.
'Tempus Vincit Omnia' marks the 25th anniversary of the band’s inception. It delivers on Electro Aggression Records' (EAR) promise to release quality music and plenty of it. That ethos is prevalent with each and every EAR release. You shall find no filler, no bullshit just great music for all the tortured souls that crave the dark and edgy margins of electronic music. My feelings for the previous output of sleepwalk have been overshadowed and by the newest creations on 'Tempus Vincit Omnia'. This is much closer to the direction I hoped Sleepwalk would eventually get to. Musically this is pure dark electro drawing on the past with a modern agenda harnessing a precision sound with plenty of signature moments throughout the release.
After the opening routine "Blood" flows with an old school vibe reminiscent of label mates Serpents. The hammering moderately paced beat seems to set the tone for the entire body of work. "Fck Pplsm" continues with a slightly quicker beat bordering on a hybrid synthpop/electro genre bending stomper. This song really captures what in my opinion was a missing piece in the previous works, an identity, and a song that defines its place and makes a bold statement in a one hour and eighteen minute opus. As the album progresses so do the arrangements. "LSD" picks up with a mixture of styles that blend together to forge a pretty wicked sounding instrumental that retains its ever-present dark approach with modern twists. "Dark City" pushes the old school theme with thumping beats and treated vocals that sound very polished and somewhat synthpoppy expanding the realm that Sleepwalk usually inhabits. With tracks like "Conscious" and "Robots" those very boundaries are expanded once again, especially with "Robots" and its Kraftwerkian feel with the treated vocals. The music is slow and brooding while retaining that dark chassis with minimal influences. There is a lot to choose from with all of this material from Sleepwalk. Each track on this album will surely foster a positive feeling for the new and the veteran dark electro junkie.
The second CD is primarily the obligatory EAR monster remix assault. As always, EAR will have the expected label mates remixing each other. Terminal State take a break from their extra-terrestrial activities to experiment on "Hypnotic", Arnte and Schmoun of Pyrroline tweak the standout "Conscience" track with some subtle manipulations of pure electronic bliss. KIFOTH from the earliest days of EAR return to create a nice remix of "Degeneration". The remix is littered with subtleties that define the signature designations of the KIFOTH genetic footprint. Although not 100% on EAR, the Tri-State folks have a close affiliation with the label. "Hypnotic" finds itself in the line of fire again, this time with a Tri-State patchover party from the ever-present purveyors of the finest symphonic industrial. What EAR release would be fully complete without a kFactor remix? Mr. kFactor AKA, the bearded sensation, loves to insert some wild yet creative sounds into his remixes. This remix features that ode to The Klinik vibe kFactor seems to revisit often in his remixes as well as his original work. Second Disease's rendition of "Angels" is a top remix with throaty demonic vocals that send shivers down one's spine. In addition to the EAR crew, we also get some impressive remix work from the veteran outfit Seven Trees and the old school inspired No Sleep By The machine. No Sleep By The Machine's remix sounds like a basic smashing of a hammer on an empty washer/dryer set. Its rudimentary yet effective in the sound. Certainly a remix that pushes far beyond the original form. Another staple to the remix projects EAR embarks on is bringing back seminal acts in their original form and their new form. One such act is Trilogy, featuring Erick Miotke of the legendary Trial with new vocalist and Amorphous, which is Gil from Brazilian electro smashers, Morgue Mechanism. In addition to all the renditions you find an alternate version of “Dark City” as well as non-album tracks “Bastard”, “Embrace” and “Pulse Of Time”. “Embrace” has an interesting twist with the vocals. Roland Ruch, brother of original member Bruno Ruch of Sleepwalk opens up his vocals chords to belt out an anthemic dose of pure opposition to the rest of the double album. It reminded of the Pyrroline track on ‘In The Dawn Of Freedom’ titled ”With You” featuring guest vocals by Emdezet with it’s standout vocals in contrast to the rest of the work.
All of the remixes are interesting and well done. For the most part they offer something a little different. It’s a lot to digest and in some ways it’s too much, but that’s how EAR rolls.
Over the years there have been a few line up changes. For the last 8 years Andreas Lehmann has been in charge of vocal duties. He is also the frontman for the synthpop/futurepop project known as Framework currently residing on The EKP label. Another point of interest is revealed on the track “Downfall”. The former Sleepwalk vocalist Oliver Spring contributes his voice and by the way also fronts label mates Teardown that we will explore further in their review coming soon. The only original member still with Sleepwalk is Bruno Ruch. One more fact that demonstrates the close bonds amongst the label’s roster is Charly from Teardown helped out with the keyboards throughout ‘Tempus Vincit Omnia’.
No matter were you decide go on this vast and glorious release you will be treated to the highly technical and well-thought out compositions Sleepwalk designed for your listening pleasure. There is nothing canned or cookie cutter about this. This is surely going to be a top release for 2018 even if the release date is 2017.
The artwork for Sleepwalk has been hit or miss over the years. With ‘Tempus Vincit Omnia’ the cover design by Frederike Tillhon’s generates a feeling that something sinister happened during a Jarvick transplant or perhaps just a crime scene photo of the once feared Jedi hunter General Grievous’ death.
For those that have not heard Sleepwalk in a while, now is the time to rekindle the love you once had. I had my doubts and those doubts have been extinguished and replaced with whole new appreciation for the veteran outfit!!! Sleepwalk is back and better than ever!Jan 25 2018
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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