If you’ve been into the rock and metal scenes for a considerable amount of time like myself, you will find that quite often it can become a blur. One thing sounds like another thing, this band has riffs similar to that band, the vocals in this one sound like that other one – and so on an so forth.
This is definitely not the case with our Japanese friends Sigh, who formed 22 years ago and have been inflicting their brand of refreshing sonic weirdness on us ever since. Sigh, are a band that is nearly impossible to explain but I shall try my best. Imagine, if you will, a band that has all sorts of oddness going on with many influences: Black Metal, World Music, Pop, Polka, Prog Rock, NWOBHM, Film Scores….the list could go on and on. In fact, if Sigh were the ‘Weird Kid’ in school they would be the kid that has a very special weapons grade weird; the type of weird where they would have friends (well, they probably unwittingly scared people into being their friends as they were that intimidatingly odd), and never have any bullies because the bullies would be somehow scared of them. Yes, THAT type of weird.
Many people, myself included – love them for it. They have also made a reasonable living off their ‘Weird Core Black Metal’ as they are still going and have survived the test of time while other bands have imploded.
After being a bit quiet for two years, they have unleashed “In Somniphobia” onto the public. Which, as a Sigh fan, never disappoints. They’re also that rare form of band that has never really made a duff album. Well, I don’t recall them ever making a duff album and I’ve been into them for about 10 years or so. If you have never heard of the band before, then leave all your preconceptions about the ‘Book of Metal’ at the door before you enter. Sigh are a weird and fun melting pot of many music styles thrown into the black metal mix. In fact, you could even argue that they’re a genre of their own. The best thing I can think of as a comparison is to Google the fictitious band Mool Perpya, as seen in the cult comedy series This Is Jinsy, or some of the musical pieces from The Mighty Boosh as a pointer – a pointer in a vague direction, but a direction where you will somehow get the gist of it. Even then, that’s nor really close enough/
‘Purgatorium’ and ‘The Transfiguration Fear’ start off pretty normally, and have a guitar solo style and playing that is rather melodic and somewhat Iron Maiden-esque’ or the widdly solos you would hear on the average ‘hair metal band’ album (but without being massively pretentious). However, there are odd flourishes of instruments in the mix such as saxophone, moog sounding organ, and bongo sounding drums but is nevertheless very catchy. These two tracks are gloriously catchy, and are mere pointers for the oddness that will unleash itself further in.
‘Opening Theme: Lucid Nightmare’ enters full on oddness, sounding like a daunting film score with menacing intro vocals that bring to mind something narrated by Papa Lazarou of The League of Gentlemen. The album then continues into many strange movements, which can at times sound like Dream Theater on weapons grade hallucinogenics, especially when you hear the guitar flourishes in ‘Somniphobia’. In places, there are flavourings out the weirder bits of Pink Floyd albums to my ears and bits that looks like they took their cues from the Roger Waters and Ron Geesin ‘Music for the Body’ album, and many other odd things thrown in that’s nearly indescribable; such as: seedy jazz portions, psychedelic garage weirdness, and sounding like bits of film scores. On paper, the description of it sounds like a completely random and shambling musical mess that couldn’t possibly work – but the members of Sigh, somehow, appear to piece it together in a manner that makes perfect sense. Somehow, there is an indescribable groove to it that makes pretty much all of it catchy and curiously addictive in a way that just causes a war with your own minds eye.
So far, this album is one of the most experimental works to date where they have upped the ante with the weirdness. But, in this case they certainly haven’t over egged the pudding. This album will please fans of their previous works, and will no doubt gain new fans. I only wish they would tour more often so that more people would witness their sonic oddness like I have first hand at Damnation Fest.
Good on you, you glorious Japanese mentalists. Keep that freak flag flying.