Sigh - _In Somniphobia_
(Candlelight Records, 2012)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (9 out of 10)
Calling Sigh a black metal band may be the most simple of labels, but also the most incorrect. This Japanese band was the only non-Scandinavian entry to be included in the second wave Norwegian scene. They were also much different back then. Since the mid-'90s, Sigh has embarked on a quest across the landscapes of progressive and avant metal. In 2001, they briefly left the earth, returning with the masterpiece _Imaginary Sonicscape_. While Sigh has always been a bit odd, _Imaginary Sonicscape_ allowed the band to embrace a limitless style of production. Disco, reggae and classical influences ran throughout the album, making it one of Sigh's weirdest and best records. Following a decade of touring metal styles, Sigh has returned with an album intended for dimensional destruction. We have begun a new game and every card in this deck is now wild.

To begin, the title _In Somniphobia_ speaks to a thematic element of nightmares or at least sleepless hallucinations. The band even described their upcoming album as a "nightmarish _Imaginary Sonciscape_." The song titles even speak to hellish void -- "Purgatorium", "Lucid Nightmare" and "Phantoms of the Abandoned Tumbrils" all speak to the material night terrors are made from. If the song titles are not frightening enough, just wait for the music to kick in.

_In Somnipohbia_ begins in the middle of a guitar solo and gets weirder with every step. Videogame melodies, bagpipes, saxophone, accordions, smooth jazz, black metal rasps, power metal solos and hand drums all dance in and out of the album, creating an atmosphere of unexpected delight. Sigh has created something special on this record, which is much like a dramatic film noir where everyone is wearing corpse paint and drinking on a space ship -- 5000 years in the future.

Though there are many elements -- and Jesus Lord there is a lot of them -- _In Somniphobia_ retains a backbone of blackened thrash. For the past ten years, Sigh has developed a solid fusion of black metal and thrash which drives each song. Though blankets of weird are piled on top, Sigh is still an extreme metal band -- now surrounded by warm fluff. Every song on _In Somniphobia_ feels like a calculated attack which never loses its fury and excitement. I hesitate to recommend this record to newcomers, but in all honesty there is no better way to jump on this train.

Somewhere in 2007, Sigh adopted a new saxophonist / co vocalist. Dr. Mikannabal's slim figure and penchant for wearing seductive clothing is deceptive, as her voice is similar to a hellbeast in the middle of a feeding frenzy. Mikannibal complements longtime vocalist Mirai Kawashima. In fact, the two together are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Mikannibal's addition has eventually sent the band into a new direction -- one that is attempting to outdo everything that they have done before.

In a broader perspective, _In Somniphobia_ is the best thing Sigh has done in ten years. While their thrash and quasi death records were decent, the band shines when allowed to free draw. The band has reinvented themselves and shown the world they are the weirdest cowboys in this strange ghost town.


(article published 4/3/2012)

7/23/2011 J Carbon 9.5 Sigh - Scorn Defeat
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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