Review : Sigh - Scenes from Hell
SputnikmusicIn the last 20 years there hasn't been a metal band as eclectic and enigmatic as Japan's Sigh. In their relatively normal, surprisingly humble beginnings, Sigh began playing what can be described as a sound that bridges the gap between first and second wave black metal; a relatively linear continuation of Venom's thrashy, scathing sound. I say relatively because, even in their infancy, there was something a little off about Sigh. Concerning Scorn Defeat, the band's first full length and the album in reference to what you've just read, Sigh employed a palpably loose sense of guitar playing, an almost bluesy, free-flowing way of distributing leads that were by no means technically proficient, but all the while intriguing and unique enough to separate them from the swarm of derivative clones coming out of Northeastern Europe at the time. As time went on, black metal began to exist only in traces throughout their music, and as it dissipated the band continually stepped further into a world characterized by words like 'psychedelic' and 'avant-garde'. For the next decade-plus, Sigh continued to expand their sound, releasing increasingly challenging records in a cycle that titled each album with a letter from the band's name. In 2007, Sigh released Hangman's Hymn, completing the second incarnation of the S.I.G.H titling pattern. Fitting, then that Scenes from Hell ushers in a new era by restarting the cycle with perhaps the band's best album yet. Not only that, Scenes from Hell epitomizes everything Sigh is and always has been about.
Whether it's revisiting the symphonics––now organically recorded––established on Hangman's Hymn or Gallows Gallery's jovial tone, Scenes from Hell plays out almost like a modern re-write of what we'd call a greatest hits album. This is to say that while it is by no means a compilation, and it exclusively features new music from the band, it carries an insinuation towards their complete body of work. It's very cumulative, evoking an entire back catalogue of material that doesn't necessarily seem like it would blend and smashing into a new, tightly composed package (which features some of the coolest album art I've seen in years). It's a redefining of the greatest hits, which serves as a reminder of what they've done just so they can outdo themselves....full text
MetalundergroundHailing from Tokyo, Japan, Sigh is a band that stands out among most bands associated with the black metal genre. Difficult to fit into one category, Sigh blends sinister black metal guitar work with epic orchestral instrumentation. The blend is a cacophonous, yet incredibly well composed, amalgamation of beauty and brutality.
“Scenes from Hell” is an album that must be taken in all at once to appreciate it. Sigh’s signature music style is ever-present from the beginning: catchy, theatrical, and usually epic. The music is driven less by the drums and guitar work and more by the unusual instrumentation. Listening to the music is like watching a brutal theatrical performance unfold.
The span of instruments on this album is stunning. From the saxophone, tuba, and trumpet to the clarinet, oboe, piano and strings, every instrument finds its part on the album and creates an eerie and frantic atmosphere that is brilliantly conducted and incredibly engaging. Although these instruments take front and center, Sigh is definitely not afraid to let the guitar work shine. Several songs feature screaming solos (such as "Prelude to the Oracle" and "The Soul Grave") that don’t sound the least bit out of place among the grandeur. The rest of the guitar work consists of tremolo work, along with melodic riffs that are intermingled perfectly with the rest of the music....full text
StaticmultimediaWhere’s my bag of “I Told You So”? When I was given the task of reviewing the album Scenes From Hell from Japanese band Sigh, I had a feeling I knew what I was in for when I read the song titles. Now, granted, the only other Japanese rock band I had been exposed to was Loudness, and they are just some hair metal band. But when I was going through the song titles and such for Sigh, I had a feeling I was in for a dose of schlock metal, and sadly, that’s what I got.
Be it by nature or nurture, this album sounds like pretty much every other death metal album I have ever heard. And the same thing crossed my mind when I heard the first song “Prelude To The Oracle” as when I heard my first Cradle of Filth song, “this music is really awesome, but why do the vocals have to suck so bad?” If you’ve said that or thought that, there is probably no way in hell you are going to like this album. There is, however, one redeeming quality to the album. It is, of course, the music.
But I’m not just talking about the blatantly brutal blast beats (say that 5 times fast) of Junichi Harashima. I’m not just talking about the great furious riffs and the piercing solos of Shinichi Ishikawa. No, there is actually some great instrumentation on the album, and it’s on par feel wise, with anything that’s been written since I’ve been alive.
Trumpets, saxophone, violins, and all sorts of classical instruments are all over this album, and are used not as an afterthought, but used to accent the power of the music that’s already there. Take, for instance, the brass section in the opening track, “Prelude To The Oracle”. As if the scary ass vocals weren’t, the brass goes on a great fast run of notes that create a feeling of uneasiness and tension. And that is hard to do when a song is moving at 500mph, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t do it, with HORNS no less!...full text
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