Today, it's a pretty obvious fact that black metal in the 90's was mostly run by the dedicated and fanatical Scandinavian metal scene. Led by Mayhem founder/guitarist Euronymous, Norway in particular became the center of black metal, with many seminal albums having been written and recorded within its borders. The tendrils of Norway's influence spread however, and it wasn't before long that many countries over the world began sprouting their own homegrown black metal scenes. One band that took what the Norwegians did and twisted it to their own, is Japanese based group Sigh. Their first album Scorn Defeat
is second wave black metal at it's finest, combining the raw fury of the Norwegians and mixing it with some avant-garde influences that would later go on to define their career.
While Scorn Defeat
remains to be the rawest release in Sigh's discography, for it's time, it is much more advanced than anything else coming out of the Scandinavian scene. For example opening song "A Victory of Dakini" begins as typical black metal tune; raspy vocals, dissonant chords and a bleak, cold atmosphere. However during the verse the song begins to incorporate acoustic guitar flourishes along with some neo-classical piano, which during the year of 1993, was unheard of in black metal. After a scorching blues inspired guitar solo, courtesy of axe-slinger Shinichi Ishikawa, the song progresses to involve even more outside influences. Uplifting choral vocals backed by hauntingly melodic organ playing creep their way into the song, taking the forefront and drastically changing the mood of the song from what it began as. That is just one example of the innovative song-writing Sigh created on this album. Many more examples are to be found, whether it be the harpsichord introduction of "The Knell" or the extensive atmospheric work in "Gundali", the album is filled with qualities that separated it greatly from other releases at the time.
Instrumentally, this album also stands way above other black metal releases in the early 90's. Guitarist Shinichi Ishikawa throughout the album shows great technicality, providing some great solos and doing a good job of keeping things interesting varying up the influences of this guitar lines. A great example of his playing is "Ready For The Final War" which incorporates both black metal and classic metal guitar lines into its structure. Drummer Satoshi Fujinami also does a good job on the album, seamlessly switching rhythms and patterns throughout songs to never fall into the trap of solely playing blast beats. Chief songwriter and bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Mirai Kawashima performs most impressively however, with his unique influences and song-writing skills truly forming the driving force behind Scorn Defeat
. His infectious keyboard playing is evident in almost every song, increasing their enjoyability greatly and adding some great dynamics yet to be seen by the genre. His bass playing skills are also phenomenal, standing out on their own and often deviating from the guitar lines to create their own interesting paths. Vocally, his black metal rasp is spot on, and he even shows off some great clean vocals in songs like "Taste Defeat" and "The Victory of Dakini".
With potential even the great Euronymous couldn't deny, the black metal luminary swiftly signed Sigh to his Deathlike Silence label in 1992, only a few months prior to his death. Luckily for Sigh, even after the murder of labels founder, Scorn Defeat
saw the light of day and band's fame rose dramatically throughout the world. When it comes to creating some truly original black metal, Sigh proves that even in their beginnings they were no slouches, with the excellent Scorn Defeat
paving the way for the true madness that had yet to come from the Japanese innovators.