Despite being active since 1990, it seems that Sigh needs to be reintroduced regularly to the general public. They might have been praised by Euronymus in their early days, but the Japanese band never achieved any global success due to their inability to stick to a music that a larger audience could appreciate. Impossible to put in a box, Sigh remain Sigh. None the less, its leader, Mirai Kawashima remains passionate about his art and continues to develop an universe he inhabits in company of his fellow musician, and most importantly of his companion, the singer and saxophonist Dr Mikannibal. Such dedication is not only admirable but also fascinating when you consider how obtuse Sigh music was and remains since the beginning. Behind this love and passion for metal, and music in general, lies a demented genius incapable of making things like everyone else. Once again, Sigh has come with a new album and once again it will disappoint and satisfy, but more importantly, it will provoke a reaction.
This time, Sigh has returned to 70’s rock but unlike the sunnier Gallows gallery, Graveward feels like a trip on a ghost train at break neck speed among the graves of LSD infused bodies. Choral vocals, heavy metal chorus, black metal scream, some keyboard solo, robotic voices, power chords and a Steve Vai solo; two minutes in Kaedit Nos Pestis and it is impossible to escape the fact that Graveward will be unlike anything you have ever heard. If you’ve ever heard a Sigh album, this kind of lunacy is expected but it’s still baffling to consider attentively when you take a step back and appreciate the mix of complexity and memorability at play here. Nowhere could you find Swedish death metal mixed with flamenco (Out of the grave) but on a Sigh album.
Mirai had offered some great keyboard work on Necrophagia‘s last album, WhiteWorm cathedral, but he had saved his most demented parts for his main project. He also invited some renowned guest in his madness, and some unlikely ones too. Niklas Kvarforth from Shining (Swe) makes an appearance on A messenger from tomorrow alongside Metatron (the Meads of Asphodel) whereas Matt Heafy (Trivium) sings on Out of the grave. Three musicians unlikely to be featured on the same album if it wasn’t for the madness of Sigh. Multi instrumentalist makes his third consecutive return to the circus to play clarinet, accordion, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, four instruments that you rarely hear altogether on a metal album.
It might seem overwhelming, and it sometimes is, as the songs are filled with solos of many kind, choral vocals, old school death metal riffs (the chorus riffs on The forlorn could come for an Obituary album) and come close to crumbling under the weight of their decadence and extravagance.Because of this unrelenting madness, it is easy to get lost in Sigh’s universe, and that might exactly be the point. As the album progress, your attention will wither away and then be attracted again by a powerful chorus or a powerful solo. There is a lot to hear here, but also a lot to enjoy. By demonstrating how talented he is, Mirai Kawashima and his cohort have created a unique piece of music to equal the grandiosity of masterpieces such as Imaginary sonicscape or Hail horror hail. Whereas In somniphobia had lost me, I found myself enthusiastic and fascinated once again. Graveward is a wonderful journey in the mind of a group of musical genius. Experience it and make your own mind, there is plenty to build your own here.