Saturday, February 14, 2009

日本の音楽 Week 4: Sigh

All right, enough of the mellow stuff. This week, I present to you one of Japan's most creative, most innovative metal bands ever - Sigh. A name which can express a wide range of emotions, from relief, to disappointment, to anxiety, to ecstasy, and so on.

Sigh began as a straight-up black metal band in the early 90s, heavily inspired by the likes of Venom and Celtic Frost, and other first generation black metal bands of olde. Sigh's first album, Scorn Defeat, was released in 1993 and garnered a great deal of international attention from the black metal underground, thanks in no small part to brilliant frontman Mirai Kawashima's exceptional talent, and experimentation with keyboards - something which had never really been done in black metal, at least not in the virtuosic manner in which Mirai introduced it. In fact, the band was signed to Deathlike Silence Productions, notorious Norwegian band Mayhem's record label, shortly before and after the murder of founder and Mayhem guitarist Euronymous.

Sigh has evolved their sound over time, progressing from traditional black metal to a more avant-garde, experimental approach, with each album sounding quite different from one another (though perhaps not on a scale similar to that of Boris), but always extreme black metal in essence. The band's latest album, titled Hangman's Hymn - Musikalische Exequien, is something of a return to the band's roots, a decidedly diabolically themed album following the power hungry temptation and subsequent damnation of a poor soul, featuring the band's most bombastic, intense, dynamic sound yet along with a powerful backing orchestra and choir (in fact, most of which were courtesy of volunteers from the band's forum).

Again, it should be noted that you'll learn little Japanese from Sigh - Mirai himself is fluent in English, and as such, 99% of the band's songs are in English (he claims that Japanese just doesn't sound right in metal). Certainly not a band for everyone's tastes (nor for the faint of heart), but those with an appreciation for the extreme and the avant-garde may find Sigh to be one of the most sexy, exciting bands in Japanese music today. You can check out a huge chunk of their work on their Myspace page, because Sigh is baller like that.

Unfortunately, the following videos aren't very indicative of Sigh's more intense side (both PVs from their more chilled Gallows Gallery), but that's what their Myspace is for.

Sigh - Midnight Sun

Sigh - Messiahplan

Recommended Albums:
  • Hangman's Hymn
  • Imaginary Sonicscape
  • Scorn Defeat
  • Gallows Gallery

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