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Sigh - Imaginary Sonicscape CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.29 | 156 ratings

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5 stars Scream for love, scream for hate, scream for life, scream for SIGH: 10/10

In the 80's, the guitarist of black metal pioneers MAYHEM created Deathlike Sentence Records, a label whose intention was to bring limelight to obscure talents of black metal throughout the world. SIGH was one of the few gifted by this ephemerous sparkle in the dark (no pun intended), releasing their debut SCORN DEFEAT (1993) and audaciously claiming the title of forerunners of the extreme metal scene in Japan. Under Mirai Kawashima wicked but highly genial's leadership that had no affection to sameness, it took very little time before they shifted their sonority from "classic" black metal to more... eccentric branches. More knowledgeable listeners of SIGH claims this transition is first noticeable in HAIL HORROR HAIL (1997).

Fast-forward four years and they release their boldest and most experimental album: IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE. It's, if anything, subversive for the concept of black metal. The genre implies hopelessness, anger, terror, darkness, whereas SIGH brings us highly upbeat, energetic songs. It's pretty clear that Kawashima doesn't care even the slightest about conventions because this is one of the most un-labellable albums I've ever heard. To simplify things, we can say that IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE is a surprisingly excellent mixture between what seemed to be water and oil: cheerful rock riffs and electronic effects with the torn and suffocating black metal vocals.

Each song has its own core - from 80's glam black metal to (black?) jazz noir- which is entirely unique to itself. SIGH is definitely eclectic when it comes to influences, and prodigal when the subject is the usage of synthesizers & electronic devices. They also demonstrated that pretty much any genre can sound great with that sweet, sweet absolutely disgraceful and suffered guttural vocals. And the best part: they don't sacrifice enjoyability for the sake of innovativeness, so you don't have to worry about mixtures being so bold they sound bad because every song has only characteristics that make them appealing and pleasant to listen to, no matter what is the Frankenstein built. I like to think that SIGH performed countless experiments, but nitpicked few of them that sounded masterful and compiled them under that psychedelic cover.

The supreme, undoubtful, unmatchable highlight is the legendary Slaughtergarden Suite. The first scene is an abrasive, dark and twisted industrial metal atmosphere, featuring a dark guitar solo by Shinichi. As you least expect, though, the song quickly switches into a jazz fusion deliciousness. As the guitar gently sweeps some funky riffs, the vocals groan delicate and bouyant lyrics: "Die at my slaughtergarden, say goodbye to your filthy life / Die at my slaughtergarden, vengeance to the world full of lives". Mirai then grabs his Fender Rhodes and Minimoog and plays a solo which in my opinion is one of the best keyboard solos in the avant-garde genre. You can't topple that psychedelic grooviness.

One weird thing is that many tracks abruptly ends into classical music/lullaby-sounding pieces. Mirai is a mad genius and he must have had a reason to do that... which I don't know what is.

I could babble forever why this album is superb, but I'll make myself short. It's a. an excellent introduction to extreme metal for people who hate extreme metal (the mellow riffs sweetens the bitter harsh vocals) b. is an excellent demonstration of experimentality without abandoning musicality and c. it's just so fun to listen to. The only type of person I wouldn't recommend this music to is to pop listeners because that creativity galore would freak them out, but then again, they wouldn't possibly be accessing ProgArchives, so I don't have to worry about it. If you're not a pop listener, though... there's no way you won't like this.

Luqueasaur | 5/5 |


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