At this point, what do you really have to say about Sigh? After being approached in 1990 by Euronymous to be the only Japanese band on his Deathlike Silences Productions label, they proceeded to spend twenty five years releasing experimental, varied, frequently genuinely eccentric albums that have now spelled out their name almost three times. With the exception of 2005’s Gallows Gallery (Candlelight) – which they’ve since admitted wasn’t really recorded with banned WWII sonic weaponry – “Black Metal” in some form has always been part of their sound, but the exact style has often changed wildly between albums.
This time around, the guiding theme seems to be a combination of rawness, progressiveness and symphonic majesty that calls to mind Venom playing Yes songs with Bal-Sagoth’s keyboardist, and works an awful lot better than you might be expecting from that description. The core of the album is a raw, savage but rocking “Black” Metal built on simple catchy riffs and Mirai’s always recognisable acid rasp, but one of the things that makes Sigh so successful is that they don’t simply litter their Metal core with extraneous garnish as so many of their “experimental” peers are content to do. Electronics, progressive and symphonic arrangements and even Pop song-writing is woven meaningfully into the tracks, creating an album which is both sinisterly understated and gloriously savage. In the context of their previous albums, the best comparison would be the band from Scorn Defeat (DSP) playing the songs from Gallows Gallery, but once again they have created something new.
I suspect that this review is largely unnecessary – by this point most listeners have already decided whether Sigh are any of their business or not, and if they are you’ll be listening to this album whatever I say. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid them until now, however, Graveward (Candlelight) is a strong, distinctive album with its own character and some genuinely excellent songwriting and works well as both an introduction to one of the most genuinely interesting metal bands of the last twenty years and an album in its own right.