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Sigh - Imaginary Sonicscape CD (album) cover

IMAGINARY SONICSCAPE

Sigh

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.29 | 96 ratings

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CCVP
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Psychedelic black metal

The extreme progressive metal bands are indeed quite a strange lot. Right from the start, with very few exceptions, you can never determine where they will come from or what they will sound in the future. In spite of that, with over 20 years after the first members of such lot appeared, some patterns start to appear, like the progressive "symphonic" (used here as a broad term) black metal of Vintersorg, Borknagar, Arcturus, Solefald and Moonsorrow, the progressive "space" black metal such as Enslave and Helheim, the progressive melodic death metal from bands like Edge of Sanity, Disillusion and Kalysia, the progressive death metal of bands like Augury, Death, Gojira and Blotted Science, the jazz metal fusion, famed by bands such as Pestilence, Cynic, Atheist, Aghora, Animals as Leaders and Exivious and the progressive thrash of Watchtower, Voivod, Spastic Ink and Vektor.

However, even in a genre with so many different sub genres within itself some bands find a way to defy all of them and create something that can only be described as their sound. Something so unique that they will serve as a point of reference for all others to follow, merging influences, musical styles and blurring the lines of what's possible and what's not possible inside extreme metal. Together with Opeth and Meshuggah, Sigh is one of those bands. Reinventing themselves in every new album, breaking boundaries and new ground, this Japanese band definitely does not fear innovating and renovating themselves. Said transformation properly started in their fourth full-length studio album, entitled Scenario IV: Dread Dreams, when they started transforming to something more than just a black metal band; however, things would only bloom in full with their next album, the 2001 opus entitled Imaginary Sonicscapes.

Throwing many conventions for black metal music right off the window, Sigh here starts their journey to merge unexpected and, at times, completely unrelated genres together, mishmashing everything into one record. Here, sigh incorporates huge deals of psychedelic music from the 1960's and early 1970's into their compositions as well as adds overlays of electronic effects to them. The end result, however good it is, feels somewhat flawed for me mainly because of the keyboard and synthesizer tones they decided to use here. Yes, the choice of using some keyboard and synth sounds that clearly belonged to the 1990's was not good at all because, after all, said decade was not quite fond of good keyboard sounds in general. That can be felt even in very good albums, like Dream Theater's Images and Words and Arcturus's La Masquerade Infernale.

Apart from that, all other instruments sound terrific! I specially like how the guitar sound raw, deep and intense and how the drums also sound raw and aggressive, accentuating the band's musical potency in general.

Another minor downturn is insisting in the idea that harsh vocals should and must be used in every instance of every song. Some songs or parts of songs here would sound better if the vocals were sung of whispered in a creepy or frightening manner, so the vocals would emphasize the song's atmosphere. On the bright side, they have learned this and on future albums they have used such resources to impressive results.

As I said earlier, the music here can be described as psychedelic rock mixed with black metal. But, how can you even begin to describe such sound? After all, there are not any point of reference to how they sound. Nothing. In spite of that, I feel that putting together completely unrelated bands I could try and explain how Sigh sounds here: just imagine if early Venom decided to play some songs by the (late era) Beatles or (early) Soft Machine or the Beach Boys (around Pet Sounds) or Iron Butterfly (around In a Gadda da Vida). Try and picture that and you will have an idea of how Sigh is in Imaginary Sonicscapes.

Rating and Final Thoughts

Even though Imaginary is much loved by many (of the few) who know in depth the music of Sigh, to the point of considering this 2001 album the best in the band's musical career, I beg to differ. In spite of having interesting, inspired and innovative musical ideas, their execution is underwhelming at points, what keeps me from giving this album the perfect rating. I must agree, however, that it is excellent in many instances and, in the big picture, it is an impressive album, whose music twists and turns in exciting and unexpected ways. That is why I believe the 4 stars rating fits this album perfectly.

CCVP | 4/5 |

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