Where to start when trying to describe anything Sigh?
The mental Japanese Black/jazz fusion/avant-garde metal band helmed by mad scientist and main man Mirai Kawashima has been pushing out schizophrenic music for the last 20 years with mixed to varying results while always remaining musically curious.
This album is no different, although the musical eccentricities are unusually kept to a minimum, reaching more often instead for traditional prog and heavy metal sounds, adding the flourishes that make the tracks unique to Sigh but keep the listening experience easier than previous releases.
Opener ‘Aletheia’ comes across as something that could have come from the last Orphaned Land album, with traditional Eastern musical influences and a prog epicness giving a false sense of security as the track ebbs and flows until the final minute where Sigh finally melt down into some kind of strange honky tonk break before jarring back on track.
‘Homo Homini Lupus’ flips the opener on its head by going for the throat and keeping its grip as a straight forward extreme metal track with a bent toward death metal, twisting and turning and ungulating towards ‘Hunters Not Horned’ that sees the band switch back to the stripped down prog sounds of the opener with its mid paced rock and a haunting flute subtly following the guitar riff to keep the sense of calm unease flowing.
For everything you would usually expect from Sigh, Heir to Despair barely uses anything of their typical violent in-your-face arsenal that can make it difficult to sit through. Instead, the further into the album the more claustrophobic it feels, from the mix of Japanese and English lyrics to the simple but goading soundscapes that draw you into the simplest and darkest corners of Sigh’s world before being shocked out of it with another slight twist or turn. This is indeed Sigh, just not as we have gotten (un)comfortable with.
This is best evidenced in the ‘Heresy Suite’, three tracks that thread through the middle of the album, flipping from mid paced prog to an almost mechanised industrial sound on ‘Heresy I: Oblivium’ before disappearing into the kind of abyss and darkness that some may have come for with ‘Heresy II: Acosmism’. The third and final piece ‘Heresy III: Sub Species Aeternitatis’ comes in with calming clean singing and child’s laughter while an organ plays hauntingly underneath as a reminder that you are not far from whatever darkness the band has drawn you to. This thankfully all gives way to ‘Hands of ohe String Puller’ and the album title track, with Sigh coming back to full strength as flutes again follow riffs and solos driving sections of both the tracks.
If you came here to listen to a brilliant band record another musical meltdown, for the first time in their career it seems as though Sigh have simplified their own chaos and created an altogether darker form of themselves.
For once their unique brand of chaos makes complete sense.
- Homo Homini Lupus
- Hunters Not Horned
- In Memories Delusional
- Heresy I: Delusional
- Heresy II: Acosmism
- Heresy III: Sub Species Aeternitatis
- Hands of the String Puller
- Heir to Despair