I am going to spoil my own punchline this time by telling you why I label this release “Mirror Avantgarde”: Because it is not Avantgarde. And by that, it is so much Avantgarde it hurts. Why is that? If you have a bunch of Avantgarde-bands, and one of these bands decides to leave Avantgarde behind, to become (or to return to something) straighter and simpler, this band does something that the other bands do not. And that pushes it avant the garde of Avantgarde. Understood? No? Well, me neither. But what I do understand is, that SIGH have delivered their most straightforward, their less experimental, their (maybe) simplest album yet. Luckily, it is not, by far not, their worst.
Bad tongues (may they forever suffer in heaven) allege SIGH to be just a japanese CRADLE OF FILTH-clone. Although it would seem that these foul-mouths haven’t heard anything else from SIGH, I can see why someone thinks that way. Not unlike COF with their last album, SIGH have returned to their very roots – pure Heavy Metal. You’ll find riffs on “Hangman’s Hymn” that could have easily managed their way onto an IRON MAIDEN-album (listen to “In Devil’s Arms” to see what I mean). Another band comes to mind if I had to compare SIGH’s latest album to something, and that would be THERION (from which they have “borrowed” a riff, undoubtedly – see the beginning of “Inked in Blood” to THERION’s “Wine of Aluqah” from “Vovin”).
Due to the nature of this album (which was meant to represent a hommage to german opera composers of the romantic era) you will find choirs and orchestration, the other side of the coin that is “Hangman’s hymn”. Straightforward Metal and classic composers; a mix which makes this album sound epic and devastating. The new drummer Junichi Harashima (Satoshi Fujinami has taken over the bass) adds a more aggressive and faster note to SIGH than ever before (his blastbeats get near the 200 bpm-mark, which is not exactly fast when compared to some swedish blast-orgies but which are pushing the monumental compositions forward), although he refrains from doing more than the standard 4/4 Thrash pattern as much as the previous drummer did.
Though I was a bit disappointed by hardly getting any experimental parts on “Hangman’s Hymn” this time, especially after the ingenious “Gallows Gallery”; after a few rotations I didn’t care anymore. Great orchestrated and composed Heavy Metal with Mirai’s unmistakeable voice, catchy melodies with an aura of grandeur and the new (female) member Mikannibal on sax and backing vocals is enough for me to put “Hangman’s Hymn” into my top five for this year. Just keep in mind, if you are looking for something overly experimental and avantgardish, maybe this time you should look another way.
P.S.: In case anyone wonders why SIGH is posted in the “Avantgarde”-section of AGM and not in the “Beyond”-section (because that is how I feel “Hangman’s Hymn” should be placed): This album was often labeled as Avantgarde elsewhere, so we decided to put it up as such. Yet, for it is somewhere between Avantgarde/not Avantgarde I suggest that everyone should judge for him/herself. But then it always comes down to that, doesn’t it?
01 – Introitus / Kyrie
02 – Inked In Blood
03 – Me-Devil
04 – Dies Irae / The Master Malice
05 – The Memories As A Sinner
06 – Death With Dishonor
07 – In Devil’s Arms
08 – Overture / Rex Tremendae / I Saw The World’s End
09 – Salvation In Flame / Confutatis
11 – Finale: Hangman’s Hymn / In Paradisum / Das Ende