SIGH. The word, and the Japanese black-metal band, can express a variety of emotions. On their eighth release, Scenes From Hell, the band is in fine form.
Mirai Kawashima (vocals/keyboards), the ultra sexy Dr. Mikannibal (vocals/saxaphone), Shinichi Ishikawa (guitar), Satoshi Fujinami (bass) and Junichi Harashima (drums) create a mesmerizing mix of classical, symphonic, progressive, black metal and what I like to call militaristic evil carnival music that result in something unique.
For nearly 20 years, SIGH has been pushing the boundaries of what black metal should or shouldn’t be. DIMMU BORGIR and other black-metal bands have brought orchestral arrangements to their songs, but Sigh has based the songs around the orchestra instead of using the orchestra as just atmosphere. It’s not so much a guitar-and-drums-driven album; it’s a symphonic assault that just sounds killer.
This time around, Mirai painstakingly wrote and scored real horn and string arrangements. The brass instrumentation is massive and powerful, up front and center, as the main musical dominance. What you get on Scenes From Hell is a mesh of music that is grandiose, epic and majestically evil. The musical storytelling is something of a masterpiece. Scenes From Hell is a vivid description of what death and Hell would be like and what happens to people there, versus the lyrical journey of ICED EARTH’s “Dante’s Inferno.”
“The Soul Grave” is a descriptive inclination at best, as to the horrific visual thoughts and aural assault SIGH unleash. “L’art de Mourir” reminds me of the style displayed on Hangman’s Hymn, but even more brutal. “The Summer Funeral” is a brooding piece with an eerie grand piano section at the 2:13 mark, as well as an emotionally-charged guitar solo toward the closing. “Musica in Tempora Belli” moves along at a blistering pace, with Mirai and Dr. Mikannibal trading vocal lines and the Dr. adding a saxophone solo. The only problem with “Scenes From Hell” is that the vocals are too low in the mix.They seem to get lost and become undecipherable in some parts. But the songs and arrangements are superb, making Scenes From Hell a musical journey of evil proportions.
By Kelley Simms