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Class 6(66)

Sigh: Scenario IV - Dread dreams

31/07/12  ||  Sokaris

Introduction

“Scenario IV: Dread dreams” represents harsh times for Sigh. Though Century Media was courting the band and sending offers, the band was contractually bound to remain on the sinking ship that was Cacophonous Records. The label had managed to bankrupt itself despite once sporting a roster with the likes of Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Bal Sagoth. No funds were available to promote the album that Sigh were forced to hand over. There also seems to be a sentiment, even from band ringleader Mirai Kawashima that the album didn’t quite live up to its potential. While Hail horror hail was a drastic change from its predecessor, “Scenario IV: Dread dreams” can be seen almost as a more conservative approach to similar ideas. The fact that this album sits between the band’s two most celebrated releases also probably doesn’t help things. “Scenario IV” must be a lackluster album based on these observations.

Fucken bullshit.

What we have here is a worthy follow-up to “HHH” featuring some of Sigh’s deepest hooks and finest melodies.

Songwriting

10. Maybe not as complex or as ambitious as the last go but everything falls into place. The left hand turns are sharp but enjoyable. There’s a “what the fuck!?” moment in particular I’d like to bring up, that being the break into country followed by reggae (complete with slap bass) in “Black curse”, a song that’s mostly blackened doom with classical elements. No, really. All in all though this an album that is a touch more digestible, not so closely resembling the musical equivalent to an arthouse horror short.

Production

9. The instruments are given a little more air to breathe and “Scenario IV: Dread dreams” gets a relatively organic sound. It might not have worked on a lot of other Sigh albums but in this case it allows the guitars to resonate a bit more thickly and the bass to finally fill a meaningful role.

Guitars

10. Tonally we get warmth, compositionally we’re all over the map. Influences ranging from thrash to black to doom and back, unconventional usage of acoustic guitar, goosebump inducing heavy blues leads and more. Seriously, fire up album finale “Divine graveyard” and only 15 seconds in we get one of those “scrunch your face up and put goddamn soul into it” guitar moments. “In the mind of a lunatic” might as well just be a clinic on how to insert dramatic musical cues with an electric guitar (all the while the extracurricular elements adding emphasis) like a badass. If only such things could be taught, of course.

Vocals

9. Somewhere between a snarl and a shriek, the main vocals on this recording are performed with vitriol and a spirit almost unmatched. Power is present in every syllable, the lyrics rattled off like hateful accusations and sinister promises. In addition to Mirai’s performance we’re treated to melodic vocals across the album as well. The first two tracks benefit from gentle, airy female utterances in the choruses that contrast the screaming voice very well. Operatic male vocals are also present, performed by Ritual Carnage mainman Damian Montgomery

Bass

7. Bass is actually fairly prominent this time around and manages to separate itself just enough from the guitar to allow its nuances to compliment the songwriting. I’m not sure if the four string rumbles deviate from the guitar lines more often than the preceding albums or if it’s just more audible this time around but the bass sketches in extra details that start to become more apparent after your listens hit the double digits.

Drums

5. Not much noticeable here, personally I’m finding Shinichi’s continued stripping down of his approach not to fit the band’s rapidly expanding ambition very well. Decent beats, a few unremarkable fills but no specific moments that make one stand up and take notice.

Keyboards

10. Although the murderous themes, layered synths and dark atmosphere would suggest a sequel to “Hail horror hail”, in a lot of ways we have the spiritual successor to “Infidel art” with the album’s usage of symphonic elements. Less bombast and more beauty this time though. The final refrain of “Diabolic Suicide” features a MIDI classical ensemble chiming in and creating a complex tapestry of gorgeous melody, huge brass and timpani give a demented feel to “Divine graveyard” during its verses and surprisingly lush, soundtrack-inspired moments abound. Marches, waltzes and operatic moments are also present to widen the orchestral repertoire and somehow it all works.

Lyrics

6. A mixed bag since lyrical duties are mostly taken up by guests including Necrophagia’s Killjoy, King Fowley of Deceased and the aforementioned Damian Montgomery. Nothing bad but a little disappointing considering how well done things were last time around

Cover art

8. The lyrics might have taken a hit but the cover art is a huge step up. Joe Petagno (most notably known for his Motorhead art) lends his talents and invokes a demonic orchestra on canvas with weapons and musical instruments alike both drawn and at the ready. It could use a little more color variation, though an extremely colorful version of this concept could’ve ended up looking like Blind Guardian’s “A night at the opera”

…and no one wants that.

Logo

6. The glow is cool but some of the other effects on the logo are really unnecessary and just seem to clash.

Booklet

7. Once again a real booklet is present with some effort put into the layout. It mostly reeks of the times, primitive Photoshop collages underneath the lyrics, but it gives a psychedelic tone and that’s appropriate. Band picture is underwhelming and it gave me a small pang of sadness to see my musical hero in a Grateful Dead shirt.

Overall and ending rant

“Scenario IV: Dread dreams” might get the ugly duckling label, even from the man most responsible for its creation. I just want to gently place my finger underneath this album’s chin and raise its head up. Caressing its cheek I’d tell it that it’s a beautiful album and that I treasure every moment we share as I pushed back its luxurious raven hair. Its heart beating furiously in its generous bosom (barely contained in a tight peasant’s blouse), we would kiss in front of the sunset, the clouds painted like an artist’s canvas in various shades of orange and purple.

“Scenario IV”, I’d totally do you.

9.5

  • Information
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: Cacophonous Records
  • Website: Sigh MySpace
  • Band
  • Mirai Kawashima: vocals, bass, keyboards
  • Shinichi Ishikawa: guitars
  • Satoshi Fujinami: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Diabolic suicide
  • 02. Infernal cries
  • 03. Black curse
  • 04. Iconoclasm in the 4th desert
  • 05. In the mind of a lunatic
  • 06. Severed ways
  • 07. Imprisoned
  • 08. Waltz: Dread dreams
  • 09. Divine graveyard