Sigh - _Scorn Defeat_
(Deepsend Records, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (9.5 out of 10)
Sigh's history is odd, and for a group of musicians from Tokyo, their larger story begins in Norway. In the early '90s, Øystein Aarseth (also known as Euronymous) created Deathlike Silence Productions, which focused primarily on Norwegian black metal, including Burzum's _Burzum_, Mayhem's,_ De Mystereiis Dom Sathanas_ and Enslaved's _Vikinglir Veldi_. Shortly before Aarseth's murder, Deathlike Silence Productions was expanding its scope to countries and continents outside the Scandanavian borders. Japanese act Sigh was the first and only non-Scandinavian act signed to Deathlike Silence Productions and would not see their debut released until after the death of Aarseth. When it was eventually released, its limited and meager run would stand in the shadow of a long lasting legacy. Before Sigh would go off the deep end of lunacy, they were just a Japanese group who somehow landed into the favor of a handful of Norwegian black metal bands.

Japan, like Norway, during the late '80s was also undergoing a black metal enlightenment. Japanese bands such as White Hell, Sabbat and Voidd embraced the speed and thrash elements of black metal's first wave innovators. This is why _Scorn Defeat_, when compared against Burzum or Mayhem, lacks the genre defining blast beats and formless cacophonous noise. Sigh's debut did more than pay allegiances to European speed metal, as _Scorn Defeat_ successfully incorporated black metal and a basket full of general oddities into one hell of a record.

_Scron Defeat_ is not just great for a time period, rather it could be an outstanding record today. Songs like "At My Funeral" and "Ready for the Final War_ put themselves out of the ledge, and while they have a possibility of falling into insanity, keep themselves together. Throughout the expanse of _Scorn Defeat_ are piano melodies which do not merely add ambience but constitute a large portion of structure. Lead singer Mirai Kawashima is just as responsible for Sighs breakthrough as the vocals take on an undeniable role in _Scorn Defeat_'s legacy. Like Varg Vikernes or Emperor's Ihsahn, Kawashima's unpredictable presence within _Scorn Defeat_ began the band's journey into the deep recesses of madness which would last for more than a decade.

For anyone not familiar with _Scorn Defeat_, this re-issue is a perfect place to begin. The album is presented, unsurprisingly, in its entirety as it first appeared nearly fifteen years ago. This is important, as re-mastering black metal records from the early '90s seems counter productive when the fidelity (or lack thereof) was integral to the presentation. For those who have heard _Scorn Defeat_ or are familiar with Sigh, they are given a generous portion of demos, rare EPs and unreleased singles which basically covers Sigh's entire early history.

Included in the re-issue is the _Requiem for Fools_ EP, which floated around the Norwegian black metal circuit leading to the band's partnership with Deathlike Silence. Sigh's earliest cassette demos (_Desolation_ and _Tragedies_) are included, along with a split with Greek black metal band Kawir. The re-release forgoes reproducing _Scorn Defeat_'s various original album covers for new art done by the excellent Chris Moyan and Mark Riddick.

Evaluating re-releases not only takes into consideration the album, but also its legacy and presentation to a new time period. _Scorn Defeat_ should be considered as important as some of the early Norwegian second wave albums now heralded in the black metal canon. Deepsend Records have outdone themselves by chronicling an important history of the Norwegian second wave of black metal with its odd yet compelling exchange student.

(article published 23/7/2011)


ALBUMS
3/4/2012 J Carbon 9 Sigh - In Somniphobia
5/29/2010 K Sarampalis 9.5 Sigh - Scenes From Hell
7/4/2007 K Sarampalis 9.5 Sigh - Hangman's Hymn
10/3/2005 J Montague 8.5 Sigh - Gallows Gallery
12/9/1999 P Schwarz 9 Sigh - Scenario IV: Dread Dreams
1/1/1998 S Hoeltzel 7.5 Sigh - Hail Horror Hail
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