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Sigh - Imaginary Sonicscape - 90%

ConorFynes, May 11th, 2011

A great thing about heavy metal is that it has reached virtually every corner of the world, and the more recent generation of metal has seen many of its brightest shining stars coming from places one might not first expect. From Japan comes Sigh, a band that is a current frontrunner in black metal of the 'weird' variety. A band that has wandered through a different style with seemingly each new album they release nowadays, Sigh finds a unique and quirky sound on 'Imaginary Sonicscape', staying true to any avant-garde label while being infectiously catchy and fun. These certainly aren't tags one would normally think of when speaking of black metal, but Sigh makes it work. Although the band's experiments here are not all successful, I can't help but love what the band has done here.

Recently, I've been finding quite a few black metal bands that are incorporating ample amounts of psychedelic rock into their sound. Sigh is no exception to this, and they make the combination sound very convincing. Although Sigh's sound is certainly rooted in black metal, many of the songs here use upbeat hooks and melodies to give the music a sense that it is more parts 'fun' than 'funeral', and on some tracks (most notably the ridiculously enjoyable rocker 'Bring Back The Dead'), you shouldn't be surprised if you're rasping along to the chorus. Although pop music is in audible effect here however, there is good reason to call Sigh an avant-garde metal band, although the weirdness is not always in full swing.

Sigh takes what have otherwise been largely (although not fully) a straightforward melodic black metal album and adds strange electronic effects overtop some parts, to give a quirkier feel. While it is only to the benefit and credit of the band that they are taking risks, many of the electronic layers they use sound shrill and even a little distracting from the main attraction, which is the wonderful songwriting and delivery. The band takes some big leaps with composition as well; although 'Imaginary Sonicscape' is no stranger to the concept of the melodic hook, there are moments here which define any category that Sigh may have been placed in before. The highlight of the album 'Requiem - Nostalgia' even plunges into something that sounds like an Ennio Morricone soundtrack to some Spaghetti Western film. As a rule, it is the compositional experiments that the band takes that are always more successful than the weaker layering experiments. That is the only flaw that seeks to demerit this masterpiece luckily however, and while 'Imaginary Sonicscape's more adventurous segments may take a little while to get used to despite the instantly endearing nature of the rest of it, Sigh has made a masterpiece here that defies tradition.