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Demo(n)s

Sigh: Desolation

18/06/12  ||  Sokaris

From the tail end of the 1980s into early 90s the curiosity known as the demo tape experienced its heyday. It seemed like perfect timing for emerging talent in both death and black metal to showcase their songwriting abilities to labels. A lot of these labels are now giants that shift tens of thousands of units and a lot of these bands have carried the torch of early extreme metal for over two decades. Some stuck to their guns, preserving their original sound and some branch out, developing their craft and pushing towards different goals. One of the most interesting and enduring examples of the latter is Japan’s Sigh, generally known as an avant-garde black metal band (though that only begins to cover things). Their journey starts with “Desolation”, a roughly recorded document to the group’s humble beginnings.

With most demos it’s assumed the production isn’t going to be anywhere near professional. This is fairly primitive stuff, though I’ve heard much rawer, especially in rehearsal demos. Everything can be heard and that’s generally what one should hope for in recordings like this. The vocals are probably the weakest link, both production wise and in their performance. In the bands initial recordings, vocalist, bassist, keyboard and general Sigh mastermind utilized mostly lower growls punctuated with the occasional shriek. The high vocals seemed to suit the music more and pierce through the rest of the instruments but only appear in a few places. Bass is hard to separate from the guitar, but there’s a decent amount of low end without muddying things up too much. The drums are decent, muffled slightly (as are all of the instruments) but clear enough for the most part.

The demo starts off with “Weakness Within”, a primitive mix of early extreme metal. The band was known for covering Death often in their early days and this song reflects some of that influence. Synth is included, with a flute-like melody appearing in the song’s surprisingly catchy chorus. The title track of the demo is a dirty slab of doomy and mid-paced riffing with a few Celtic Frostisms thrown in for good measure. All it’s missing is an “uggh!” or two. Another eerie keyboard line emerges, guiding the song through its bridge. Wrapping things up is “Mentally Numb”, a song that seems to employ a grindcore attitude, speedily flying past in less than a minute with its linear, three part structure. It ends things on a somewhat abrupt note but like the two more fleshed out tracks before it, this song offers a different side of Sigh (not one that would be explored later though).

All in all this is an interesting listen for diehards but there’s little here that would appeal to the average listener considering there’s less than seven minutes of material here, presented raw.

“Desolation” appears as bonus material on the two disc version of “Scorn Defeat” released by Deepsend and The Crypt’s 3LP edition of the same, which also features “rough mixes” of the opening and closing songs. They’re actually clearer but sounds extremely thin. The only other notable difference is an alternate keyboard effect in “Weakness Within.”

5.5

  • Information
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Self-released
  • Website: Sigh MySpace
  • Band
  • Mirai Kawashima: vocals, bass, keyboards
  • Satoshi Fujinami: guitars
  • Kazuki Ozeki: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Weakness Within
  • 02. Desolation
  • 03. Mentally Numb