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The best Sigh album in some years - 100%

Kronisk, November 23rd, 2018

Context is everything, so bear with me whilst I give some. My favourite previous Sigh album is Scenario IV: Dread Dreams. Its opener and closer are my favourite examples of songs where you do not know whether it is quite black or quite doom, but it is just so savagely what metal is that you would play it for the proverbial Man From Mars anyway. On a similar token, I hated Graveward. Maybe the problem was that my first listen was on Spotify, so every so many songs the flow was severely broken by Spotify's shitty ads. But I have listened to Graveward in a lossless format since, and I have never used Spotify again. I still stand by Graveward being Sigh's absolute worst (and with Sigh that means most boring) album.

So when I say that in my mind, I visualise Heir To Despair climbing up to the summit of the mountain of King Of Japanese Metal and taking a throne right next to Scenario IV, understand my meaning.

Given that Heir has a cameo appearance from Phil Anselmo, one of those dirtbags who mistake metal for being conservative and about "lookithowtuffIam", this would normally be significant. But Phil's voice is filtered through so many effects that he is utterly unrecognisable anyway. He sounds like an actual man in this song, as opposed to the fourteen year old boy with his testicles caught in a hair-crimper voice that I normally associate with Phil Anselmo. But Homo Homini Lupus has something else that Pantera et al do not. When Mirai says he at least partly understands the emptiness, fear of further abuse, and pain that can drive a Human being to violence against self or others, I believe Mirai. After listening to this album, and any song therein including Homo etc, I believe him at least as much as I did during Scenario IV.

Normally, when I review an album, a film, a game, or any kind of practical device, I like to temper it with a description of what detracts from the product. Few are the albums that do not have something about them that, changed or rectified, would have made them that tiny bit better. Not so with Heir To Despair. I seriously cannot think of any element in Heir that makes me reconsider giving it top marks. Even the production within the ever-more-apparent limitations of the compact disc format, which is especially punishing to artists that use more than a guitar or two, bass, and drums, is an example of the best within the aforementioned limitations. Being able to hear what the bassist is doing most of the time is a rare gift. If Mirai ever stumbles across this review, I want him to hear me when I say that I would gladly pay Japanese import prices to have this album in ninety-six kilohertz.

During a conversation at a hobby store, a man told me that when you send cultural things to Japan, they take the essence of it as they see it and ramp it up many notches. You can see this in Japanese pop, Japanese boy bands, Japanese films, and so on. Sigh is therefore prima facie evidence that metals doom, black, thrash, and all else real, is the most awesome music on Earth. Because the way Sigh takes what metal is about and sends it back to our Western ears, it comes back so awesome that we struggle to learn the lessons we ought to learn from it.

Heir To Despair is hands down the best album of 2018, and the best Sigh album since Scenario IV: Dread Dreams. Never has the cover art of an album given such an accurate picture of the content. The lady on the cover looks like she is trying so hard to "be positive" that she might just take one of the glass shards on the floor and gouge a permanent smile onto her face. The music captures exactly what it feels like to be pushed into such a pit of despair. This album is the most perfect expression of what metal is really about in many a year. Run, do not walk, and get yourself a copy.