Founded in 1989 by Mirai, Satoshi and Kazuki (Who was soon to be replaced by Shinichi), SIGH became – and not only due to lack of other contestants – one of the best known Black-Metal bands from Japan. Stop – Black Metal? In the good old days of written letters and tape-tradings, SIGH were supported and introduced to europe by Euronymous of Mayhem, and their first album Scorn Defeat was released through his label Deathlike Silence. While most of their european colleagues spend their time running through the woods with broadswords, SIGH posed with Katana instead, not to forget corpsepaint, spikes and leather. And though the first albums were in the spirit of Black Metal indeed, one might wonder when listening to this album at what point have SIGH been captured by UFOs exactly?
Nowadays, with the new album Hangman’s Hymn being more in the style of traditional Heavy Metal with the typical SIGH twist to it, even more catchy than it’s precedessor Gallows Gallery, SIGH seem to have returned to planet earth. But as 1997’s Hail Horror Hail foreshadowed, Imaginary Sonicscapes not only floats high above it, it opens several dimensions of madness and summons demons formerly unknown to man. This album throws you in for a ride between Heavy Metal, Black Metal, seventies Rock, classic and even some jazzy elements. Dizzy, anyone?
To be honest, I have never really appreciated the drumming of Satoshi because of its simple style, but I have to admit that it fits SIGH’s music well – and it works as the only constant on this album, giving Mirai the hook he needs to experiment with classic compositions on piano, hammond organ solos and simply spaced out soundeffects without taking off completely into space. The vocals are mostly Black-Metal based, with the one or other clean experiment (“Requiem – Nostalgia”’s vocals reminds me with their classic attitude even of URFAUST’s Willem on “Auerauege Raa Verduistering”, though in a different context). Backed up by sporadic guitar solos from Shinichi, this elements are, crazy as it sounds, well balanced and fit together perfectly without appering overloaded. From Rock-influenced tracks like “Ecstatic Transformation” to Doom-elements in “Slaughtergarde Suite” (although this track is the longest on the whole album and features much more elements), the classic orchestral beginning of “Requiem – Nostalgia” or the dark piano track “Impromptu – Allegro Maestoso” (which would be perfect if SIGH were ever to create a theme for the console game Final Fantasy) – I have seldom heard a band which manages to fit as much different styles into their music as SIGH does on Imaginary Sonicscapes without becoming ridiculous. On the contrary, they have proven once again (after a rather weak “Scenario IV: Dread Dreams”, at least compared to their other outputs) that they are capable of great compositions and of creating unique atmospheres.
So, if you are in for a mix of IRON MAIDEN on magic mushrooms, BURZUM (if Varg had played Heavy Metal instead, that is) and some cross-reference to ULVER (after William Blake, beware), and at times something which might be the soundtrack for a japanese Horror Movie, you might try to listen to this album. Or, if you are just wondering what a former japanese Black-Metal band, which poses in seventies-clothing and with wakizashis on giant flowers and sings about death, decay and madness, sounds like, give it a try. It might take some tries to grasp the complexity of this album, but it’s definetly worth it.
Label: Century Media
Avantgenre: 70ties Influenced Blackspaced Heavy Metal
Official site: http://sigh.gospel-virus.net/
Review online since: 04.08.2007 / 12:25:00
02 Scarlet Dream
03 Nietzschean Conspiracy
04 A Sunset Song
05 Impromptu (Allegro Maestoso)
06 Dreamsphere (Return To The Chaos)
07 Ecstatic Transformation
08 Slaughtergarden Suite
I: At Dawn
II: The Dead Are Born
III: Destiny Divided
09 Bring Back The Dead
10 Requiem – Nostalgia