Sigh - Shiki (Peaceville)
Whether it is fashion, technology, or, in this case, music, Japan has always been a leader of thinking beyond established rules; experts in shattering the status quo. When it comes to black metal, Tokyo's own Sigh has bent and reshaped the boundaries of the genre for over thirty years.
Returning after a four year silence, Shiki pushes the envelope even further with its blend of avant-garde elements and traditional black metal grimness. Around every corner is some element that, while becoming the pillar for extreme metal bands today, was already in Sigh's formula long ago.
For just some examples, consider "Shoujahitsumetsu", with its icy grooves that give way to a soaring guitar solo delivered by Frédéric Leclercq (Kreator, ex-DragonForce). Or perhaps eerie synths of "Shikabane", which are sure to please fans of Carach Angren and Dimmu Borgir.
At the center of the album is the seven minute long "Satsui - Geshi No Ato", with its staccato filled intro and exotic influences. Put together a little bit of Chthonic and Melechesh and you're in the neighborhood of this track, but not quite at Sigh's level of perfection. Listen closely and you'll hear the haunting wails of vocalist/saxophonist Dr. Mikannibal under the gnashing screams of Mirai Kawashima.
Sounding like a black metal version of The Dillinger Escape Plan's late works, "Mayonaka No Kail" is another highlight with its pitch shifted vocals and exotic textures. A perfect prelude to the closing instrumental track, "Touji No Asa", which closes the album out with gentle ambience and dreamlike sequences.
The Metal Mayan Review
When you think about how strict the supposed 'rules' of black metal are, it take something incredible for elitists to make an exception to anything that doesn't involve good ol' Satan and friends. That said, any time I have seen a Sigh patch on someone's vest at a black metal show, with it came many others in the crowd giving that individual kudos for knowing that band.
One listen through Shiki definitely proves why even the purists bow in the wake of Japan's premiere avant-garde metal band. I was simply hooked on "Satsui - Geshi No Ato" with its unique sections, each one catchier than the last.
While not as mainstream as a popular anime, Sigh has again and again proven that pushing the limits of a genre can produce some incredible music. Let Shiki be another fine example of this craft.
Visit your local record store and pick up a copy of Shiki, out now on Peaceville.
Advance copy courtesy of Secret Service PR and Peaceville