Sigh: Hail horror hail
18/07/12 || Sokaris
WARNING: This album is way beyond the conceived notion of how metal, or music, should be, in essence it is a movie without pictures; a celluloid phantasmagoria. Accordingly, the film jumps, and another scene, seemingly unconnected with the previous context, is suddenly inserted in between frames.
Every sound on this album is deliberate and if you find that some parts of the album are strange, it isn’t because the music is in itself strange, but because your conscious self is ill-equipped to comprehend the sounds produced on this recording.
Hype and pretension are two frequent victims here at Global Domination. We’re unafraid to show disdain for overreaching press releases, ego-driven grandiose motions and self-aggrandizing in general. So of course I’m going to at least poke fun at this statement, right? There’s no way an album could justify having this message printed on it, right? Fucken wrong. “Hail horror hail” actually does make sense in this context, cinematic and beyond fucked up. Strap yourself in, don’t stare at anything for too long, don’t ask too many questions and enjoy the album. At the very least I can promise it’s unlike any other. Take Dio-era Black Sabbath, early Venom, a splash of classic hard rock organ, cinematic string scoring, percussive guitar, clamoring bells, campfire atmosphere acoustic guitar behind melodic flute and set it all in motion with a complete disregard for sanity and musical convention and you have… the first song.
10. I suppose I have to do more than just gush and name cool parts, but actually evaluating and recounting what Sigh does here in words… I imagine it’d be like a biologist dissecting a superior lifeform. I know enough about what I’m experiencing to appreciate it, but processing it and regurgitating it as words and sentences is tricky. Although black metal is still a key component to their sound, Sigh are seen here dipping into more varied heavy metals while the subgenre modifiers just pile up. Brooding and doomy, frantically melodic, progressive, psychedelic, epic, catchy, jarring. I could pull out all my writer adjectives and still not cover every element in place here. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s a lot going on here. Drastic changes can occur in unexpected places and the record will unravel itself further which each listen. This is not background music but it’s definitely entertaining to pick up something new each time around.
9. J. Yamada, the album’s engineer definitely deserves some credit here. I imagine the recording session for this album was an extremely unconventional process and no cookie-cutter soundjob would work. Dealing with such a variety of approaches, tons of layers and post-production edits to achieve the band’s desired effects would likely test the abilities of any recording professional. Of course while all of these extra elements are being dealt with, the meat of the band’s sound can’t be lost in this aural juggling act. Fortunately said meat is intact, delicious and filling. The extra elements act as seasoning and we’re treated to a strange but satisfying meal. Driving this metaphor straight into ground, “Hail horror hail” is definitely more appealing than another bizarre and protein rich dish that was prepared in Japan.
For the die-hard, there’s an alternate mix of the entire album on the vinyl reissue. Overall it’s less polished but it’s worth hearing as there are different effects used and a lot of different details are given more space in the mix.
10. In my other Sigh Class6(66)‘s I’ve mentioned the development of Shinichi’s guitar ability, mostly through his injection of a more personal and unique style, marrying the best of 80s extreme metal with hard rock catchiness and even a blues edge that would become more apparent later on. The title track’s licks and solos are just mindblowing, guitar leads battling with the vocals throughout the song’s beginning and conclusion. Slayer is channeled in “Curse of Izanagi”, epic closer “Seed of eternity” features a great dramatic rock solo, “12 souls” is a great example of creating accompaniment to a very unorthodox composition… extremely memorable and tastefully executed moments exist in every track. Acoustic guitar is sprinkled throughout, utilized as a sort of garnish, fulfilling a similar role as some of the overdubbed fragmented leads. Despite all of the synthesized/sampled madness the guitar maintains a thick, heavy tone and most importantly, never forgets the power of the goddamn riff.
9. The shrieks get sharper and more powerful. It sounds like the screams are coming through harder but more controlled. Vocal effects are used occasionally, either used to augment the present vocals or create a completely otherwordly sound entirely. “42 49” features both melodic vocoder sounds and pitchshifted, reverbed out demonic bellows in addition to the rawer vocals.
5. I can’t really be too harsh on the bass for not doing much memorable on this recording, considering the guitar’s given a thicker sound and there’s so much going on that fancy low strings wouldn’t really make sense. It’s likely that a showy performance would just muddy up the sound so what’s here does an adequate enough job.
7. The small complaints I had about the drum balance last time around (overly loud snare, toms getting lost in the mix) are addressed here, though the performance could still use some more variety. I would’ve loved to hear human drums in “12 souls” but the song’s completely schizophrenic nature would make that performance a monumental task.
10. Weird shit happens. And it’s awesome. It might be more accurate to rename this section “Keyboards/Samples/Insanity” since it’s tough to tell where basic keyboard performance ends and crazed production editing begins. There are passages of layered strings and brass forming an epic symphonic effect, a solo piano piece in “Burial”, organs and pads sounding like a blend of 70’s European horror and experimental modern classical music.
9. Very dark but from a more personal angle. The album basically explores themes of murder and the fear of the element of senseless violence that still exists in society. There are still occult elements, but they seem to be viewed from a psychopathic perspective. Brutal in parts but extremely poetic overall, probably Mirai’s best lyrical work.
_A crowded street with a thousand faces
may hold one with murder in his eyes
For Death can hide in many different places
And shadows conceal the sharpest knives_
4. I’m not really a huge fan of the super over-saturated orange Photoshop burn tone here. The cover once again features antiquated Oriental art, but this time there’s an over abundance of filters placed over it and it’s honestly hard to tell what’s going on. The Crypt, once again, features sharper art and leaves well enough alone, not bothering to recreate the digital effects for the 3LP set. It’s better, but it’s still not all that compelling an image.
6. Takes up almost a quarter of the cover, black with an orange glow.
7. The visuals I complained about on the cover aren’t as bad for the inside layout. For the first time we get a substantial booklet. The art features Buddhist statues, death’s head moths and some interesting band photos featuring swords, a violin, bullet belts and Satoshi covered nearly completely in camouflage.
Overall and ending rant
This album is an experience wholly unique to itself and though it might instantly put off less adventurous listeners, there’s method in its madness and it will undoubtedly captivate a few out there. Equip your conscious self and dive the fuck right in. The insanity’s just fine.
- Released: 1997
- Label: Cacophonous Records
- Website: Sigh MySpace
- Mirai Kawashima: vocals, bass, keyboards
- Shinichi Ishikawa: guitars
- Satoshi Fujinami: drums
- 01. Hail horror hail
- 02. 42 49
- 03. 12 souls
- 04. Burial
- 05. The dead sing
- 06. Invitation to die
- 07. Pathetic
- 08. Curse of Izanagi
- 09. Seed of eternity