Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sigh: Scenes From Hell (2010) Review

Yes, lately I have gone out of my way to find Japanese metal. Sigh is probably the most well-known Rising Sun band among extreme metal circles, and for good reason: They are both uncompromising and experimental.

Their latest, Scenes From Hell, is the first to include new member Dr. Mikannibal, saxophonist, vocalist, and thinly veiled attempt to appeal to male hormones. The album makes good use of the saxophone, though, and also includes a full horn section. This doesn't detract from the metal, but instead it seems to transform it from ordinary black metal into a demonic war march. The brass instruments evoke both militaristic and ecclesiastical feelings, putting them into a very dark context, but they also often stray into Latin horn territory for a very strange juxtaposition.

The other thing that really makes Sigh stand out on this album is the guitar solos. Instead of doing thrash or black metal style solos, they seem pulled from old school heavy metal or hard rock albums, providing another interesting contrast.

Aside from the brass and the guitar solos, this is pure black metal. If it wasn't, then you wouldn't be able to recognize it as such. What I don't understand, though, is that with all of their innovation, they have still stuck with the lo-fi, poor recording favored by some black metal purists (who ironically profess anti-conformist beliefs while enforcing a definition of black metal which is extremely limiting and, therefore, conformist). The music is awesome, and I'd be willing to bet these guys can kill in a live show, but the recording is terrible. And I'm no audiophile, either, but please just don't make it sound like you recorded it in a parking garage.

The Verdict: The music is awesome, and it's innovative, but the recording is terrible. If you turn the stereo way up, and then walk into the next room, it will probably sound natural, and in that situation it may be one of the best you hear all year. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. I enjoy this album more each time I hear it. It's a little tough to get used to, and I don't think I like it as much as Hangman's Hymn, but that's okay.

  2. The other version of this album (mastered differently) is much, clearer. It doesn't sound like it was recorded in a garage.

    So far I believe it's only available via a Chinese label, packaged together with the other mix and some demos.
    The original plan was to release the other version in Japan.

    No idea why it was mastered twice (maybe it was down to the label).

    I'm also aware this comment comes at least two years after the last.