Anybody fancy a slice of fruitcake, best grab a jug of saké to wash it down with as this is an album that is going to be hard to digest even by arch nutters Sigh’s standards. The band never exactly started off normal and were one of the outsiders who drew me into this type of music in the first place thanks to UK label Cacophonous realising their brand of Infidel Art was worthy of exploring and lumping them in with a whole host of ground-breaking acts. I still have fond memories of their first couple of UK shows complete with ninja security kicking would be stage divers off as everyone got caught up in their black thrashing lunacy. By the time they were hitting things out the ballpark on albums such as ‘Imaginary Sonicscape’ we knew that frontman Mirai was a very strange chap indeed and was likely to continue pushing at genre conventions every step of the way, something he has steadfastly done leading up to this their eleventh bonkers incarnation. One thing that has been noticeable in recent years is that compatriot in crime and partner Dr. Mikannibal has hardly tethered the frontman and multi- instrumentalist in but just spurred him and his creativity on all the more into the realms of musical fantasy. Along with a hub of other creative musicians such as Yuichi Oshima a survivor of nuclear meltdowns and earthquakes, nothing here is quite what it seems. Best hang onto your hats before pressing play and be prepared for anything happening.
From the opening bars of ‘Alethia’ this is clearly identifiable as being the work of Sigh, the choppy rhythms, can be but one band. Having said that there is a large dollop of oriental flavouring here and it appears that the band are taking something in the way of ethnic musical topography from their homeland here including singing in Japanese for a change. Other facets like the trill of a flute show progressive and folk sides and the electronic vocorder effects yet another. It seems a bit more natural than heavier orchestrated work of late, no less beguiling and enchanting with it. I am sure the subject matter and narrative is fascinating although nothing is given away with the promo material making me any the wiser to that. Another thing Sigh seem to be mischievously adapt at is throwing in a sudden signature melody that sounds like it has escaped from a British and much loved hospital or cop drama from popular TV, listen out for it here, if my mind hasn’t done a fart, you will find it! Somehow disparate elements that shouldn’t go together do, perhaps it’s the mastery of the players but it all gels together in such a way that even a patch of ragtime blues at the end of the first song seems to come naturally, phew! With everything thrown into a melting pot of creativity I probably wouldn’t even have realised that ex Necrophagia (RIP Killjoy) collaborator Phil Anselmo pops up with some guest vocals amidst the madcap dash-a-thrash of the loopy ‘Homo Homini Lupus.’ Pure progressive guitar wizardry and Tullish flute infect as the mad dervish of ‘Hunters Not Horned’ takes hold, mushrooms have been added to that saké and vocals go from clean sweeps to goblin growls to match the schizophrenia of the music. Traditionalism merges with the more normal accoutrements of a band playing away and you should listen out for inclusion of instruments such as the Shamisen amidst the broiling, never standing still for a second musical canvas which bridges the decades between bygone times and modernism.
Those looking for the \\\metal/// will find it amidst the huge stew of everything else hitting from all angles. Sigh have not forgotten how to blackly thrash, they just do it in an odd way as on the rasping melee of ‘In Memories Delusiona.’ Play along to the guitar and find yourself tied up in complex knots, head exploding as you try and catch up with it all and keep any semblance of sanity. Devils and demons have infected the vocal chords too or perhaps a Tengu would be a more apt description. The triptych that is the three part Heresy trilogy is frankly odd, a slow brooding mystical trip into slow psychedelia and even dub with many nuances heard previously in Sigh’s imperial musical kingdom seeping in between the lines. Best advice is mong out for a while and go with the experimental flow. As far as the second part in particular is concerned I’m also reminded a bit of Mirai’s more horror orientated work with Enoch and Goblins Be Thine era Necrophagia. Speaking of horror is a certain theme ‘phantasm’agorically etched into ‘Hands Of The String Puller?’ I have a vision of the tall man every time I hear it and am sure Mr Angus Scrimm would approve whatever dimension he currently resides in. Everything leads to the final ten minute title track but let’s leave something for the mystery and imagination, after all I have gone way beyond things in a review that could have been summed up in 2 words “delightfully bonkers!”
All that still needs to still be said, is someone get them over here again, Damnation Festival 2008 was way too long ago.
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)