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SIGH

Experimental/Post Metal • Japan


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Sigh picture
Sigh biography
Formed in 1989 in Tokyo, Japan - Still active as of 2017

SIGH is one of the first black metal bands from Japan, but they were not content to be simply that unique - they quickly began to innovate with symphonic keyboards and atmospherics before eventually progressing their blend of metal to psychedelic new dementions, pun intended. Sigh's humble goal of creating some of the most evocative horror music ever recorded could only be accomplished through progressive means, something they continue to do with each release. Originally, the band consisted of Mirai Kawashima(bass, keyboards, vocals), Satoshi Fujinami(guitars) and a little-known drummer named Kazuki who has ended his music career since leaving SIGH. After the first demo, "Desolation," a primitive tribute to earlier metal like Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost with some high ambition considering the quality of the four-track recording, Kazuki left the band and Mirai and Satoshi continued as a two-piece before hiring a full-time guitarist - Shinichi Ishikawa, so Satoshi could focus on drums. This is SIGH's current known lineup, although it is said to have recently hired a full-time bassist so that Mirai can concentrate on his virtuoso keyboard playing in the band, a strategy they adopted on their last tour. From their early demos (which feature a lot of material that has been re-recorded with more complex, rich arrangements than heard on their powerhouse black-metal originals), Sigh has continued to expand their ambition, drawing in the influences of numerous sources, from Ennio Morricone to John Zorn, all manner of jazz, classical and ambient innovation that they've successfully merged with their great blend of metal. It was clear from the band's first full-length that they had ideas for evocative, chilling sound compositions that included as many beautiful symphonic melodies as they did thrashing guitar riffs, and Mirai's evolving obsession with actual vintage synthesizers (not just their sound-alikes) has allowed the band to begin to write music as likely to give you an acid flashback as a nightmare.
As far as progressive fans are concerned, the point at which SIGH becomes most interesting is with the release of the "Ghastly Funeral Theatre" EP, a short concept album based around Japanese occultism and incorporating a heavy amount of folk melodies and acoustic passages into the twenty minute running time. This would be a mere predecessor to "Hail Horror Hail," a true psychedelic masterpiece ...
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SIGH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SIGH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.10 | 28 ratings
Scorn Defeat
1993
3.68 | 30 ratings
Infidel Art
1995
4.10 | 48 ratings
Hail Horror Hail
1997
3.90 | 43 ratings
Scenario IV: Dread Dreams
1999
4.28 | 160 ratings
Imaginary Sonicscape
2001
3.80 | 48 ratings
Gallows Gallery
2005
3.93 | 38 ratings
Hangman's Hymn - Musikalische Exequien
2007
4.03 | 38 ratings
Scenes from Hell
2010
3.93 | 58 ratings
In Somniphobia
2012
3.73 | 21 ratings
Graveward
2015
3.91 | 21 ratings
Heir to Despair
2018
3.88 | 22 ratings
Shiki
2022

SIGH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.60 | 5 ratings
The Eastern Force of Evil: Live '92-'96
1997

SIGH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SIGH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SIGH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.09 | 3 ratings
Desolation
1990
2.18 | 3 ratings
Tragedies
1990
3.67 | 3 ratings
Requiem for the Fools
1992
4.00 | 2 ratings
Sigh / Kawir split 7"
1994
3.00 | 2 ratings
To Hell and Back
1995
3.19 | 12 ratings
Ghastly Funeral Theatre
1997
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sigh / Necrophagia split
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
Abigail / Sigh - Evilized Japan split
2004
3.50 | 2 ratings
A Tribute to Venom
2008
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Curse of Izanagi
2010

SIGH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Shiki by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.88 | 22 ratings

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Shiki
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars It's rare that I find an album so agitating that I can barely find it within myself to write a song-by-song review, but this is one of those albums. But, my interest was provoked by recent glowing reviews (Dapper~Blueberries and JohnProg), so I decided to check it out.

My first two attempts were aborted because of lack of uninterrupted/undisrupted time, but I distinctly remember thinking, both times, "I'm nowhere near in the mood to take this on." Today I've carved out the time I need to devote to doing my review.

The drumming and percussion work is wonderful. The keyboard work is interesting and well spread out among a multitude of instruments and sounds though the use of "old" keyboards (old sound samples providing the programmable sounds) is always disappointing to me. The guitar work is pretty standard--especially in terms of sounds and styles used. But it is the vocals (as diverse as they are) that I find laughable and, frankly, unenjoyable--even despite the talented theatricities. As my immediate predecessor, JohnProg, noted, there are many enjoyable melodies and dynamic and stylistic shifts (e.g., in the more instrumental "Mayonaka no Kaii"), within many of the songs (with great drum play throughout), but, at the same time, there are so many sounds that feel borrowed and recycled (from other bands/songs). I do not feel as if this album or music has brought anything new or exciting to the world of Progressive Metal music; on the contrary, it may, in fact, be more "retro" than forward thinking.

For those who love the "classic" sounds and riffs of the historical line of metal music, this might be an excellent grab. For those who are looking for boundary pushing music within the Prog Metal subgenres, this may not be up to your hopes and/or expectations. For those of you who are not really metal lovers, this probably won't be your cup of tea--this despite the usual Japanese skill and energy that it contains. I wholly respect the artistry and effort that went into putting this album together, which is why I would never consider rating this any lower than three stars: they are, after all, professionals; I know that there are many artists out there that could never do better.

 Shiki by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.88 | 22 ratings

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Shiki
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by JohnProg

5 stars Although they have a long history (12 albums in 29 years) and are respected in the underground scene (especially as an Avant-Garde band), it is the first time that I have the pleasure of listening to Sigh, and therefore I do not know how important or innovative is "Shiki" in the band's discography. I don't know if it means a new approach or a progress in his style, I only know that it is a quite original and traditional work at the same time, where extreme genres such as Death, Thrash and Black Metal (in its most symphonic variant) easily coexist along with sounds close to oriental folk and eighties synthesizers.

In addition to never reaching abstraction or the 'post-rock' approach (where the sound is more important than the forms) that 'Avant-garde' bands are accustomed to; "Shiki" -in its austere forty-six minutes- offers us groovy riffs, epic choruses and dynamic sections that musicians like Mikael Akerfeldt would surely like.

 Shiki by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2022
3.88 | 22 ratings

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Shiki
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

5 stars Well, this seems like a great contender for album of the year. I have said this before but Prog has been killing it this year. There have been so many great releases that I can tell will be regarded as instant classics for the next 10 years, and it seems like we'll get even more this September. So I wanna highlight an album from last month that has quickly become one of my favorites this year. The metal we got from this year so far has been at worst ok, but at best stellar, and this right here is the cream of the crop in terms of that experimental, highly pronounced progressive metal.

Sigh is a band that cropped up in the late 80s in Tokyo, Japan. Their current line-up includes Mirai Kawashima (Lead vocals, keyboards, sampler, programming, vocoder, woodwinds, bass, percussion, and arrangements), Satoshi Fujinami (Bass, guitars, drums), Junichi Harashima (Drums), Mika Kawashima, AKA Dr. Mikannibal (Saxophone, vocals), and Nozomu Wakai (Guitars). They were considered one of the first black metal bands in Japan, however, they had a resolve to experiment, which paid off by 2001 with their most acclaimed album yet, Imaginary Sonicscape. So far they have had a good track record of creating great albums that have an evocative, psychedelic, and straight-up insane music. They have an edge when regarding experimental metal music in the past decade, and they still have one even now. So far from what I have heard from them, they haven't released a single bad album, and I doubt they'll stop anytime soon. So, this is their 12th studio release, and I must say that this is probably their strongest album to date.

Minus Kuroi Inori, which is just a 16-second prelude, the first track, Kuroi Kage is one of the best openers for a metal album I heard this year. I adore how it has this intense and overarching build-up to a satisfying payoff with that intense, and almost sludge metal riff. The main focus point here is probably the Eastern influences. In the albums I have heard from them, they never really had any sort of sound and structure that felt very Eastern, only really dipping their toes into that whole cultural style on a few occasions. Here though is when you hear a more old Japanese sound. It is like the band is embracing their country's culture while also embracing their intense music, combining the two into a harmonious mix. It's honestly to god the most structural metal song I heard from this year, and I think if there was a track that can get someone hooked instantly to this band, it'd have to be this one.

I said before that the last track almost had a sludge metal riffage to it, well take that and give it a sprinkle of Mastodon-influenced sounds with the next track, Soujahitsumetsu. Besides the Japanese singing, this feels very reminiscent of that early 2000s sludge metal sound that Mastodon was pioneering with Remission and Leviathan. However, I never felt like they were copying that sound. Instead I feel like they are using it to break a new mold, revitalizing that sound further to where it feels more intense, more grandiose, and more fun. This song just has a fun feel to it all, especially at that guitar solo after the halfway point, how it just feels so fast yet so full of energy. It's just a wild track that gives you a whirlpool of awesome riffs that help solidify it as an awesome track all around.

These elements get expanded upon with Shikabane, where we get even more fun flavors to work with. I love how it goes from this intense piece to a more atmospheric and synth-driven piece that gives this early days horror movie vibe. I love it wobbles around, almost like the album is taking a breather after going through a ton of epic metal pieces, before going back up again to that heavy attitude once more. I think the drumming here is the main highlight, how it can just go from some intense and speedy styles to more gripping and slow builds. I think if your album doesn't have good drumming, then you aren't doing a good job, because to me the drums are the heart of a song. A song can still be good without drums, that much is evident in many genres that do not even rarely have any drums like new age or acoustical music, but when you do have drums, they have to be strong or else everything will fall flat. With that being said, they are strong here. Some fun playing and stylization with the drums go a long, long way. It's just a great track all around.

Like how each song just builds to some amazing moments, the album just keeps building, and here we see one such of those amazing moments with Satsui - Geshi No Ato. Oh my god, no wonder this was chosen for the promotional single for this album because it is top-notch. I adore how bouncy, and just plain rambunctious the first half feels, and it feels like that throughout the entire stretch of the song until it dissipates this more electronic and very light soundscape that just envelopes you even more to this experimental sound. You can tell, after 11 albums of trying new things and experimenting, we get stuff like this that shows how this band can work with that intense, but also very fun and lively progressive metal sound.

Oh man, and it just gets better with Fuyu Ga Kuru. This song just goes through such a journey, that hones in on that Eastern style the band brought forth in spades with this album, having woodwinds in this song while also having a symphonic mellotron in the back, creating an atmosphere in many areas of this song, to then go back to that energetic sound in such a smooth and well thought out manner is flat out amazing. This album is embracing the band's country's culture in spades, and honestly, it really works for a metal style. That Japanese sound found here really gives this album an awesome and unique flavor that I haven't heard before. It is a unique experience for me, especially before listening to this album, I was mostly listening to more Western Prog bands, so hearing this was a very nice change of pace.

Believe it or not but the album just doesn't stop getting better, in fact, this is probably the best album it has gotten, and that statement goes to Shouku. Such an epic track. The intensity, the heat this propels is just marvelous. It is so fast that when it gets slower and heavy, it still feels like a rush of blood through my veins that just gets me hungrier for more. I just have to say this, but the part at 3:50 is so good. It is just heaviness in musical form that just drives through your head like a needle on a thread. It instantly pierces you, no, it takes a chainsaw and slashes your chest in, and it's the best feeling yet on this album. When I first heard it, time felt stopped in its tracks, and I think that is such an amazing feat for a band to pull, to just make your listener feel like time and everything around them just stopped moving. It is a hard, near impossible feat, but it feels like Sigh did it without any issue at all. I just love it so much, and I think it turns this entire album into a must-listen for me.

Skipping Kuroi Kagami, which isn't a track but more of a 1-minute interlude, for the next track, Mayonaka No Kaii. This is where all that build-up pays off in the end with a really strong track. It fully gives you that one-two punch of that epic metal sound, with those historical cultures the band embraces on this album. A full lot of flutes, Eastern stylizations, and a juicy amount of epic progression and composition are to be found here, all in five minutes, making it not the longest track, but yet still making it one of the juiciest, most fulfilling tracks this album can have an end on.

However there is still one last track, and that is Touji No Asa. Where Mayonaka No Kaii felt like a fulfilling piece, Touji No Asa feels like a true closure to this album, not making me hungry for more, but appetizing me up for what is next to come in the band's strong lineup of albums. It is a good end to this album, not ending with a giant bang, but with something quieter, and more ethereally potent.

When I mean this is a contender for album of the year, I mean it. It does so many things right, and each song just gets better and better. This is an album that you got to run and listen to because it is such a treat. Everything on it from the sound, to the bare essentials of what makes a metal album work is done with such potency that it makes this one of the strongest, most fulfilling Sigh album I have heard so far, and the most fulfilling metal album I have heard of this year so far. Give it a spin, you will not regret it.

 Scenes from Hell by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.03 | 38 ratings

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Scenes from Hell
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Scenes from Hell" is the 8th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through The End Records in January 2010. Itīs the successor to "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" from 2007 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as Sigh welcomes a fifth member to their ranks in female vocalist/saxophonist Dr. Mikannibal...

...and just as you thought Sigh couldnīt get any weirder or more boundary seeking, they turn the symphonic black metal style of "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" (2007) on its head (or at least twist it), and returns to a more raw basic speed/thrash/black metal style on the guitars, bass, and drums, but everything else is kept weird to the maximum. Somehow maintaining the occasional symphonic edge to their music, but using a lot of brass instrumentation/orchestration. As always itīs almost impossible to describe Sighīs music in a way which ensures that the reader gets a good picture of whatīs going on. I apologize in advance...

Few other artists are able to combine as different stylistic elements as Sigh do and make it work. Itīs pretty bizarre listening to classical orchestration mixed with aggressive blackened speed/heavy metal and harsh snarling blackened vocals. Acts like Dimmu Borgir and their ilk have released symphonic black metal before Sigh started doing it, but itīs the unpolished rawness of the metal part of the music and the almost organic sounding classical orchestration which create a major contrast to the more polished and clean sounding symphonic black metal acts, and make Sigh stand out as unique.

"Scenes from Hell" features a raw and organic sounding production job, which suits the rawness of the music well, and the musicianship is on a high level on all posts, so upon conclusion itīs another intriguing, original, and distinct sounding release by Sigh, who continutes to be one of the most unique acts on the scene. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Gallows Gallery by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.80 | 48 ratings

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Gallows Gallery
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars My favorite Sigh album? I think so! This album is great, even with personal bias aside, it serves as a nice break from the band's black metal. It still has some black metal in it but it's not as much as their other releases. Gallows Gallery still has all the Avant-Garde metal and psychedelic metal but it sounds different than the other albums the band has put out. Sigh would return to black metal on their next album; although, Gallows Gallery is just as good as their other albums.

Gallows Gallery has a shorter length, which makes it more accessible to new fans, however I think this album should be a new fan's second Sigh album, with Imaginary Sonicscape being the first of course. Gallows Gallery is my third and probably favorite album by Sigh. This band continues to impress me with all their releases. Take Gallows Gallery as Sigh for stupid people, or people who don't like black metal; in that case, this would be their only Sigh album.

 Heir to Despair by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.91 | 21 ratings

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Heir to Despair
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by progtime1234567

4 stars Sigh's latest album is the second Sigh album I've listened to, and it was great. The Japanese black metal warriors continue their journey with Heir to Despair, which is another album full of solid, psychedelic black metal. Heir to Despair has a great-looking album cover that's appealing to the eye with the smiling woman on it, making it look like an innocent picture. A closer look at the art shows that the woman is watering a dead plant, and there's debris all over behind her. If you look very closely, there is a man's shadow in the background that looks like it's approaching the woman, spooky. This album cover reflects the title of the album, "Heir to Despair."

The music matches the album cover, that is, it seems pretty but it's also very chaotic and heavy. Fifty-plus minutes of great psychedelic black metal. Even then, the album is difficult to categorize into any specific genre. Black metal is just a general descriptor. Good ol' Sigh. Like any other album by this band, you have to listen to it in order to get an idea of what it actually sounds like.

I don't listen to much black metal but when I do, I prefer Sigh... and Enslaved, maybe Deafheaven, and definitely Agalloch. To fans of psychedelic metal, black metal, maybe post metal, and certainly fans who like Avant-Garde metal, this album is for you. Heir to Despair is only my second offering by Sigh but it's certainly not going to be my last.

 Imaginary Sonicscape by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.28 | 160 ratings

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Imaginary Sonicscape
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by progtime1234567

5 stars Sigh is a Japanese avant-grade metal band that plays a form of black metal that sounds like no other. Imaginary Sonicscape is a great album because it explores so many different sounds that it keeps you hooked for the entire length of the album. Sigh is rooted in black metal but they are more than just that. They combine avant-grade metal with their heavy black metal. The album has lots of heavy riffs and the vocals are black metal vocals, but there is also a wide variety of keyboard sounds and effects that add to the sound. The album is also really long with it being over and hour and most of the songs being long but it keeps your attention and does not get boring at all. If you're looking for some very good experiment or avant-grade metal then this album is for you. I personally believe that this album should be heard by all experimental/avant-garde metal fans and black metal fans as it is truly a creative, original masterpiece.
 Hangman's Hymn - Musikalische Exequien by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.93 | 38 ratings

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Hangman's Hymn - Musikalische Exequien
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" is the 7th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through The End Records in June 2007. Itīs the successor to "Gallows Gallery" from 2005 and not surprisingly the two albums sound very little alike (which would actually have been unusual as most Sigh are pretty different in style and sound).

"Gallows Gallery (2005)" saw Sigh play a twisted form of power/heavy metal with very few nods towards their black metal past, but "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" brings back the raw black metal vocal style and a slightly harder edged basic sound. Of course Sigh havenīt stagnated or gone back to the roots, as they are an ever changing and developing act, and this time around they are opted to challenge themselves by making a symphonic tinged black metal album. Theyīve used symphonic elements before, and itīs been obvious on preceding releases too that lead vocalist/keyboard player Mirai Kawashima is a classically trained musician/composer, but on "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien", Sigh go all in on the symphonic concept.

You would think with a band covering as much musical ground as Sigh manage to do, that they would fail once in a while, but listening to "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" itīs abundantly clear that itīs not this time around. Sigh pull off playing symphonic black metal with the same ease as they have managed to play raw and savage old school black metal, avant garde/progressive black metal, psychadelic progressive black metal, and power/heavy metal on their preceding releases.

The basis of Sighīs sound is still guitars, bass, drums, and snarling blackened vocals, but "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" is loaded with symphonic orchestral keyboard arrangements and choirs, which work well with the raw backing. "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" is a concept release divided into three parts, and the overall theme is religious (God, Satan, good vs evil type story), with use of bits and pieces from "Requiem" (liturgical service of the Roman Catholic Church).

Upon conclusion "Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien" is yet another bold, creative, and adventurous release by Sigh. Clever songwriting, powerful delivery of the music, and a professional and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly. Itīs through and through a high quality release and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Gallows Gallery by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.80 | 48 ratings

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Gallows Gallery
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Gallows Gallery" is the 6th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through Candlelight Records/Baphomet Records in October 2005. It's the successor to "Imaginary Sonicscape" from 2001 and there's been one lineup change since the predecessor as drummer Satoshi Fujinami plays bass and guitars on this album, and new drummer Junichi Harashima has been added to the lineup. The remaining part of the lineup are Mirai Kawashima (vocals, keyboards, organs, sampling...etc.) and Shinichi Ishikawa (guitars).

But it's not so much the lineup changes which make the headlines here, as "Gallows Gallery" is yet another left-turn stylistic change from Sigh. If you're familiar with the preceding releases in the band's discography you'll know that Sigh have pretty much changed musical style between each of their releases. To begin with little changes between releases and gradually much bigger changes between albums...culminating in the release of the avant garde, psychadelic, atmospheric heavy metal album "Imaginary Sonicscape (2001)", which is as weird as it is exciting. If you thought Sigh would continue down that road on "Gallows Gallery", I can tell you, that you have another thing coming...

...because suddenly it seems like Sigh have decided to release a power/heavy metal album. Gone are the harsh blackened vocals from their past releases, and instead the vocals are clean, and there are harmonies and choirs. The vocals aren't angelic clean or high pitched though, but more akin to for example the vocals on a Running Wild album. So they are still relatively raw and not necessarily what many would label pretty. The strong Japanese accent also add something different to the vocals, and personally I find the accented vocals quite charming, but I can understand those who wouldn't be able to appreciate them.

While the primary music style on "Gallows Gallery" is power/heavy metal, this is a Sigh album, and not surprisingly the band twist conventions and explore boundaries of the power/heavy metal genre, so while there are many recognisable power/heavy metal elements featured here, you have probably never heard an album in the genre which even remotely sounds like this. Drums, bass, guitar, and vocals, are complimented by the use of various keyboards, synths, and organs (and some other instruments like Gong, Sitar, and Tibetan Bells), and a generally very adventurous approach to songwriting. The material are well written, catchy, and energetic, but some tracks sound a bit the same (the melody lines are similar as are the riff style and rhythms), but the band do incorporate some surprises to keep the album varied (an example is the slow, atmospheric, and psychadelic tinged "The Tranquilizer Song").

"Gallows Gallery" features high level musicianship and a decent quality sound production (a bit thin sounding, but still decent), and upon conclusion it's another high quality release by Sigh, who must be praised both for their boldness and for their complete disregard for genre conventions and expectations from their fans. The fans are of course by now used to expecting the unexpected, but you still have to be a very open-minded music listener to be able to appreciate such major musical changes between releases. Those who have stuck by the band through their many transitions, will probably stick by them on this release too and be rewarded for their loyalty, because "Gallows Gallery" is a grower and while it is very different from anything Sigh have released before, this is still unmistakably the sound of Sigh. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Imaginary Sonicscape by SIGH album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.28 | 160 ratings

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Imaginary Sonicscape
Sigh Experimental/Post Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Imaginary Sonicscape" is the 5th full-length studio album by Japanese progressive/experimental metal act Sigh. The album was released through Century Media Records in July 2001. It's Sigh's first release on the label after they left Cacophonous Records, as a consequence of what the band felt was bad promotion for "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams (1999)". The three-piece lineup who recorded the predecessor is intact on "Imaginary Sonicscape".

Although Sigh originally started out as a black metal act, they soon began to experiment with their sound and the last couple of preceding releases have been increasingly progressive/experimental. "Imaginary Sonicscape" tops them all though as Sigh take their adventurous songwriting approach to new creative heights. The basis in the music is fairly traditional heavy metal riffs/leads/harmonies and rhythms, and Mirai Kawashima's snarling raspy vocals in front. The latter is the only feature on the album, which links the music on "Imaginary Sonicscape" to the band's black metal past, because nothing else on the album is extreme metal related in any way.

While the heavy metal elements in the music are relatively traditional in nature, the band make sure that everything else on the album is challenging to the listener. There is omnipresent use of vintage keyboards/synths/organs and additional features like ghostly choirs, percussion, the odd programmed/electronic section, saxophone, and atmospheres which range from eerie darkness to almost sunshine psychadelic happiness ("A Sunset Song" is an example of the latter mood). The use of classical music themes and orchestral sections are also quite dominant in the soundscape. It's not an easy listen and most listener's will probably need more than one listen to decide what they think of the album. The tracks and the album in general take many left-turns along the way, and the listener is kept on his/her toes throughout the 63:35 minutes long playing time.

The musicianship is strong and while everything is performed with great skill and precision, Sigh generally perform their music with a great organic touch, which is further enhanced by the organic sounding production. The songwriting is on a very high level, and it's obvious Kawashima has some classical music education/training, because the keyboard arrangements and the keyboard performances in general are seldom heard this sophisticated in heavy metal music.

"Imaginary Sonicscape" is for the open-minded heavy metal listener, and there is no guarantee this is something a lot of people will enjoy. It's probably very much an aquired taste, even for fans of the band. Expect the unexpected and you won't be dissapointed. Personally I think the experiments sometime make the album a bit incoherrent, and some tracks feel like they lack direction, like the band just added sections/elements they felt were interesting to add without thinking about the big picture. Knowing the musical genius of Kawashima I'm sure that's not true though, and I'm sure the output is exactly what Sigh had in mind. My personal feelings aside this is still a high quality release and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Thanks to morpheusdravenfuid=morpheusdraven for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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