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Sigh - Scenes From Hell CD (album) cover



Experimental/Post Metal

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4 stars This review was originally featured on my music blog, Styrofoam Boots. For a link to the site, send me a PM!(I can't put it in the review text because it screws with the HTML, I think)

I'll be up front: In terms of extreme metal, you generally have to put a little bit of a spin on your music in order for it to catch my attention. Unless your black metal is symphonic or your death metal has progressive elements, I'll likely become bored pretty quickly. There are exceptions to this, of course, but by and large these genres have to do something different in order to keep me listening.

Sigh's Scenes From Hell, thanks to manic saxophonist Dr. Mikannibal and a stunning orchestra ensemble , separates itself from the fold immediately and jumps to the front of the pack for (admittedly early) consideration for best metal album of 2010.

"Zany" is a word I'm slightly remiss to use in describing the first portion of this album, but I fear it might be the only word that truly describes the sound that Sigh has concocted here. Thumping drums and growling, raspy vocals smash head first into classic rock-tinged guitar solos and brass arrangements that might be described as peppy to create a sensation composed of equal parts anxiety and jubilation. "L'art de mourir" probably has the most memorable chorus of the album, something not unlike if Mr. Bungle and early Emperor had a child, and "The Soul Grave" sounds as though all Hell's demons started jumping out of the floor right below you, and they're having a grand old time of it too, thank you very much. If anything, the first three songs probably describe the feeling of being on the street during a Godzilla attack: It's pure terror and bedlam, but you just have to smile because, come on, this can't actually be happening. It's one of those rare albums that's close to impossible to sit still while listening to. This is music you'll want to put on when you need to go for an angry walk, or just as an appropriate sonic background while you lose your mind.

Scenes From Hell then moves into a pair of similarly titled dirges called "The Red Funeral" and "The Summer Funeral". They move the album into somewhat darker territory, as the classical arrangements both become more prominent and less bouncy, and the whole tempo of the album slows down a bit for the fourteen minutes these songs take up. This is not to say that Scenes From Hell loses even a modicum of intensity during this middle third. Indeed, the Gothic leanings that these songs take present an image of Apocalypse and fragmentation that is at once unnerving and undeniably exciting. "The Summer Funeral", in particular, mixes waltz, folk and black metal elements that explode into the bleakest, most romantic cocktail this side of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor album.

The final three songs eschew the classical/movie soundtrack elements a little bit and go head-on towards more traditional black metal fare. These are, predictably, the weakest songs on the album, but since Sigh is still an exhilarating band with or without their orchestra backing them up, these songs still thrill more than 80% of black metal could ever hope to. "Musica In Tempora Belli" is more or less typical moshpit fare, but the violin solo and spoken word segment that arrive in the middle of the song call back fond memories to earlier in the album(and yes, you won't even have time to finish it before you have fond memories of Scenes From Hell). "Vanitas", sadly, close to completely abandons the brass and strings that made the rest of the album so memorable, and in effect it becomes the least memorable song on the album. Thankfully, the title track wraps things up with a stirring horn section and breakneck pace that summarizes the whole experience and puts a nice bow on it, to boot.

Scenes From Hell is essential listening. If you've never gotten into metal before but have an open mind, this could be a great place to find out what the big deal is. And if you're already a hardcore metalhead, well, there's absolutely no reason-none whatsoever-for you not to have this in your collection. Sigh has created an utter triumph that mixes the avant-garde with indispensable metal fundamentals and sounds like nothing else on the scene today. Scenes From Hell has set an incredibly high bar not only for future metal albums of 2010, but for all music to come out this year, metal or not.

Report this review (#293542)
Posted Friday, August 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Absolutely furious, yet enjoyable depiction of hell. The main thing that will probably attract you is this orchestrated arrangement of songs (piano, some horns and most importantly [and mostly being heard], trumpets). They really improves otherwise boring music this way. Well, it's 21th century, it's even new decade and one have to find new directions in which he makes music. This reminds me Diablo Swing Orchestra a little bit with its Dance Macabre cabaret feeling. There are some parts reminding Hawkwind's Edge of Time (spoken parts) and also endings sounds like mixture of Ska & Brass music at times. On the top of it all, this is absolutely furiously melodic music (how desperately are they trying to be melodic. Sad thing is that this band, being Japan (which is quite unusual for such kind of music) is virtually forgotten.

4(+), alive and kicking for next decade.

Report this review (#294192)
Posted Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Fire is so cold though my blood is boiling in my veins. Vice on virtue, victory on vanity. Answer me now, I will laugh in pain."

Few bands can claim to be as eclectic as the Japanese extreme metal band Sigh. While the band's main sound is based in black metal, the band has made use of a wide variety of influences which includes but is not limited to: classical music, thrash metal, power metal, jazz, and doom metal.

Sigh may be presenting Scenes From Hell, but who knew hell would be an orchestral assault of thrashing black metal riffing. No other song on the album beats the rampage of the opening "Prelude to the Oracle", which never lets up with its rapid thrashing and chaotic orchestrations. After opening with spoken word, "The Red Funeral" blends brooding doom metal and melodic black metal with more strings and orchestra. The latter is pretty much prevalent in the whole album, making the album play out like some sort of demented symphony or movie score, ending with the raging title track as a grand finale.

The production couldn't be any more perfect for the sound of this album, as it has a real dirty and filthy sound that gives a nice contrast between the grimy riffing and also prevalent melody throughout the album. "Prelude to the Oracle" and the title track in particular show this contrast quite well. The murky basslines and stabbing thrashing in the latter are particular great.

If you're looking for some eclectic black metal that lies on the more melodic and thrashing side of the spectrum, you can't do much better than Sigh. The band has many great albums, but to me Scenes From Hell is one of their finest records and most focused.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here:

Report this review (#1602546)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first Sigh album to include the scintillating contributions of Dr. Mikannibal on saxophone and vocals, Scenes From Hell continues the band's explorations of symphonic avant-black metal frenzy. David Tibet of Current 93 is an unexpected but welcome guest this time around, offering spoken word recitations on The Red Funeral and Musica In Tempora Belli (roughly translating to "Music In Times of War"). It's all gruesome, rough fun, though I do wonder whether a more lively production job wouldn't have teased out all the ingredients of Sigh's bizarre stew a bit more evenly. That said, the air of murkiness does harken back to Sigh's earliest releases, setting this in a continuity of musical development that began in the second wave of black metal and has fruited in this bizarre hybrid.
Report this review (#1920713)
Posted Thursday, May 10, 2018 | Review Permalink

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