Sigh - Heir To Despair [Album Review][Spinefarm Records]
Hailing from the Pearl Of The Orient known as Tokyo, Japan, Sigh has always been known as always changing trying to push their own limits in songwriting. With their most recent effort Heir To Despair [Spinefarm Records], Sigh decided to take a different approach entirely. So how does Heir To Despair stack up? Mark Fisher fills us in!
About The Band
Tokyo’s own Sigh have a long history in Extreme Music. Spending much of their career as a Black Metal band, their first release came in 1993 on Euronymous’ Deathlike Silence Productions. Released shortly after his murder, the band jumped from label to label releasing albums on Cacaphonous, Candlelight, Century Media, and The End Records. Over the years, they have evolved into a more Avant-Garde extreme act. Heir to Despair finds the band on Spinefarm Records and this is certainly their most experimental album to date.
Heir To Despair
This album takes a bit of getting used to, like all Avant-Garde metal. I’d say it took me about three full listens before the intricacies of the songs started revealing themselves. “Hands of the String Puller,” for example, is one of the more traditional sounding songs with Black Metal vocals, buzzsaw guitars, and machine gun riffing but it’s nuanced with brief drum soloing, samples, orchestration, and a lead woodwind piece that rocks surprisingly hard. “Hunters Not Horned” is another one of the few songs with a traditional structure, but it’s breakdowns are rife with sludgy guitar leads and Sepultura like percussion. The album’s namesake is a monster of a song as well with sampled choirs, a slower, heavier, pace, and some thick riffs that counter-play the woodwinds and some heavier parts that elevate everything. The dark carnival vibe is inviting, gorgeous, and creepy as hell all at once.
The three part “Heresy” is where we see the band really test their limits though. “Heresy I Oblivium” starts out almost entirely electronically, eventually being joined by monster percussion work and some guitar leads while still being laced with spacey electronic samples. “Heresy II Acosmism” slowly walks through itself with orchestration beneath a manipulated vocal sample, bridging the gap between I and III. “Heresy III Sub Specie Aeternitatis” is probably my favorite track on the whole album. It’s got a distant, kind of tinny sound, with a clean, beautiful vocal and some fascinating samples intermingled with a fuzzy, note-heavy guitar lead. And some random power saws, giggling, and piano notes.
So, this type of album certainly isn’t for casual listeners. Heir to Despair is an album that you have to spend some time with. There are so many layers and such unique instrumentation and interpretation of what extreme music can be. You can listen to this album everyday for years and probably not absorb it all. In my opinion, this is Sigh’s masterwork. It’s at least on par with Hangman’s Hymn and Imaginary Sonicscape. If you enjoy bands like Arcturus, Agalloch, Virgin Black, and Ulver then you will definitely fall in love with Sigh’s Heir to Despair.