Monday, April 09, 2012

Sigh: In Somniphobia (2012)

Bring Me a Dream

My dreams are stupid. Where brilliant artists of all stripes often claim inspiration from dreams, I can't find any. The only time I ever had an interesting dream was when Admiral Ackbar was a minister. Other than that, it's mundane. And I've never in my life had a nightmare. I'm probably wired wrong.

So the theme of Sigh's In Somniphobia doesn't exactly speak to me. It appears to be a concept record about dreams, nightmares, and (if the title is appropriate) fear of sleep. But the music is something I can't get out of my head. Japan's premier avant-garde metallers (they can no longer lay claim to being a black metal band) have created a richly complex sonic vision that never ceases to amaze me.

The first thing you will notice about this record is that it actually has a good production. I guess the band finally relented gave the fans what they want, ditching the boombox microphone in a cave approach.

After that, you won't stop noticing things, because they're constantly throwing new things at you. Besides your standard metal setup, they also use synth, electric organ, piano, harpsichord, sax, horns, choirs, accordian, robot voice, music box, and samples. As if that's not complicated enough, the musical styles represented include black metal, power metal, sexy jazz, circus music, Middle Eastern folk, French folk, dubstep, and a chill Latin jam. Crazy, right? But that's the thing with dreams--they don't necessarily fit together or make sense.

Anything that has so much stuff in it should, by all rights, fall apart under its own weight. By some bizarre Japanese magic, it doesn't, and the band have created what could be their catchiest album to date. I don't know how they did it, but they did.

The Verdict: Many people will not agree with my assessment, and this will turn out to be one of the most love-it-or-hate-it releases of 2012. But give it a half-dozen listens, and it will work its way into your skull. Maybe even into your dreams. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Buy In Somniphobia


  1. It's a fantastic album and it is available on the Candlelight Bandcamp. Added to Metal Bandcamp here.

    Funny, almost all reviews I've read (mine too) included a long list of all the different styles on the album, like the one you have. I guess it is unavoidable :)

  2. I still think that (so far) this is my front runner for metal album of the year.

  3. @ Patrick: It's right up there, for sure.

    @ Max: That's true of a lot of the positive reviews. I don't think you can really get a sense of the breadth of styles without such a list, or at least naming four or so. The negative reviews tend to say "circus metal" and leave it at that. It has certainly been divisive, or at least the praise has been far from universal.