Review Summary: Party in putrefaction
Admittedly, for years, I have been a massive detractor of Sigh. I mean, they've always had this grating, irritating, and nauseatingly obnoxious
quality to them--most notably on their last two records. In fact, Scenes From Hell
was the first taste I received of the Japanese metal band. And what an acrid taste it was, both sickly sweet and distastefully sour. No matter how much I tried I couldn't see through the distorted and comically vaudevillian take on black metal.
Maybe it's the years I've spent listening and dissecting all sorts of metal, but suddenly I see Sigh for who they are--genuine metal in the flesh. The bloated and maddening mix of disparaging symphonic elements with thrash make more sense to me than the most heartfelt outing this year. You see, metal is inherently silly. Metal is weird and dramatic. It's fun, insane, and completely of the moment which is something Sigh embrace wholeheartedly.
, the latest outing from the prog-metal act. It follows the same direction that everyone was expecting. Horns and sax explode all about the same thrash/black metal background that has been polished to a fine sheen. Much like the last two records they are an unexpected celebration of all things metal. Rather than being an avant-garde distortion, like so many perceive, it's actually a magnification of all things indulgent within metal. It's a boisterous and melodramatic celebration of sheer energy filtered through loud and scathing music. A success, really, Graveward
manages to be thoroughly enjoyable in a tongue and cheek sort of way. Not only does it revel in all the trappings of metal-dom, such as shrieked vocals and over the top guitar solos, but it takes the most over done themes and makes them refreshingly off kilter.
You see, Graveward
is all about death--death, dying, and the morbidity of mortality. Yet the subject material is approached in such away that it does not reek of trite melancholy or oppressive aggression. Quite the contrary, actually. Graveward
is a boisterously good time through and through. It's a celebration rather than a dirge. The bopping horns and soaring vocals give an unlikely "fun" energy to an otherwise gruesome set of lyrics. In almost Danny Elfman fashion the album manages to be both light hearted and incredibly morose.
Successes abound, Sigh can't seem to shake one thing: Graveward
sounds bad. The mixing throughout the album comes as a surprise given the tight songwriting within, but overall it sounds perplexingly inert. Instead of a nice mesh we are met with pieces on a set, with players in the foreground and others forced along the back wall. Most noticeable are the drums, which at times need the listener to listen keenly to really experience. Lacking the pummeling drive so desperately needed, the album feels innocuous at times.
This of course is a hard sell, with the album feeling inherently flawed. Really though, it is no stake to the heart because Sigh do a fine job keeping up spirits with a veritable sense of awareness. This really shines through the consistently entertaining set of tunes which showcase the band's diverse set of skills. It wears a little thin though, as Graveward
can be a little overwhelming. Like a barrage to the senses the album beats the listener down with the same pace and tone throughout. With a little panache they are able to give an air of uniqueness and diversity to each song, but truly they are pretty similar save for the more electronic tracks "The Molesters of My Soul" and "A Messenger From Tomorrow."
I'm a surprising believer now, after all these years. Sigh are fun. Sigh are wild and unpredictable. Most importantly, Sigh take a magnifying glass and light to metal, reveling the joy of it burning down. While Graveward
offers up a great time, it will most likely go down as one of the band's least accomplished records. Shoddy production and sterility stunt an otherwise excellent package.