Sigh. The word, and the Japanese black-metal band, can
express a variety of emotions. On their eighth release, "Scenes From Hell,"
the band is in fine form.
Mirai Kawashima (vocals/keyboards), the ultra sexy Dr.
Mikannibal (vocals/saxaphone), Shinichi Ishikawa (guitar), Satoshi Fujinami
(bass) and Junichi Harashima (drums) create a mesmerizing mix of classical,
symphonic, progressive, black metal and what I like to call militaristic
evil carnival music that result in something unique.
For nearly 20 years, Sigh has been pushing the boundaries of
what black metal should or shouldn't be. Dimmu Borgir and other black-metal
bands have brought orchestral arrangements to their songs, but Sigh has
based the songs around the orchestra instead of using the orchestra as just
atmosphere. It's not so much a guitar-and-drums-driven album; it's a
symphonic assault that just sounds killer.
This time around, Mirai painstakingly wrote and scored real
horn and string arrangements.The brass instrumentation is massive and
powerful, up front and center, as the main musical dominance. What you get
on "Scenes From Hell" is a mesh of music that is grandiose, epic and
majestically evil. The musical storytelling is something of a masterpiece.
"Scenes From Hell" is a vivid description of what death and Hell would be
like and what happens to people there, versus the lyrical journey of Iced
Earth's "Dante's Inferno."
"The Soul Grave" is a descriptive inclination at best, as to
the horrific visual thoughts and aural assault Sigh unleash. "L'art de
Mourir" reminds me of the style displayed on "Hangman's Hymn," but even more
brutal. "The Summer Funeral" is a brooding piece with an eerie grand piano
section at the 2:13 mark, as well as an emotionally-charged guitar solo
toward the closing. "Musica in Tempora Belli" moves along at a blistering
pace, with Mirai and Dr. Mikannibal trading vocal lines and the Dr. adding a
saxophone solo. The only problem with "Scenes From Hell" is that the vocals
are too low in the mix. They seem to get lost and become undecipherable in
some parts. But the songs and arrangements are superb, making "Scenes From
Hell" a musical journey of evil proportions.