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4.04 | 19 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Avant-garde Metal


1. Purgatorium (4:48)
2. The Transfiguration Fear (4:51)
3. Opening Theme : Lucid Nightmare (1:58)
4. Somniphobia (7:34)
5. L'excommunication à Minuit (5:38)
6. Amnesia (8:10)
7. Far Beneath the In-Between (7:10)
8. Amongst the Phantoms of Abandoned Tumbrils (9:31)
9. Ending Theme : Continuum (1:42)
10. Fall to the Thrall (5:17)
11. Equale: I) Prelude II) Fugato III) Coda (8:00)

Total Time 64:39


Mirai Kawashima - Bass, Vocals, Keyboards, Sampling, Programming, Vocoder
Satoshi Fujinami - Drums, Guitars, Bass
Shinichi Ishikawa - Guitars
Junichi Harashima - Drums
Dr. Mikannibal - Alto saxophone, Vocals

Guest musicians:
- Metatron / vocals and narration on tracks 3 and 8
- Kam Lee / vocals on track 7
- Barmanu / sarangi
- Adam Matlock / clarinet on tracks 6 and 11, accordion on track 8
- Jonathan Fisher / trumpet on tracks 8 and 11

About this release

Candlelight Records, March 12th, 2012

Thanks to J-Man for the addition and Wilytank, UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Sigh's crazed In Somniphobia seems to be the result of someone in the band saying "Hey, gang, let's see how many different genres of music we can transform into sounding like black metal as we possibly can on one album", and the rest of the group pulling out all the stops in response to the challenge. How many can you count? I hear classical flourishes (though no orchestra - Sigh are their own orchestra), upbeat J-rock, and a plethora of other musical styles buried deep within the buzzing guitars and eccentric vocals of the band. Cementing their claim to be black metal's answer to Mr. Bungle, Sigh are the sort of band where you just want to step back and let them do their thing, because they're so unpredictable you could lose a finger if you get too close to the machinery.
"In Somniphobia" is the 9th full-length studio album by Japanese avant garde/progressive extreme metal act Sigh. The album was released through Candlelight Records in March 2012.

The music on "In Somniphobia" offers up pretty much what you expect from a Sigh album. The unexpected! The band have long journeyed the outer limits of avant garde/progressive extreme metal and listening to "In Somniphobia" it quickly becomes apparant that the adventurous journey is far from over. These guys are still so far out in space that it´s doubtful they´ll ever return to planet earth. While the basis in the music is as always a raw type blackened thrash/heavy metal, that´s only the bottom of a multilayered soundscape pyramid. Classical music, spaghetti western- and B-horror movie soundtrack music, jazz, blues, progressive rock, avant garde and all sorts of other influences can be heard throughout the album.

As an example take the track "The Transfiguration Fear". How the hell the band manage to incorporate a spaghetti western theme, female choirs, handclaps, a saxophone solo, galloping heavy metal rythms, raspy black metal type vocals and all sorts of other oddities to the track and make it sound like the easiest and most seamless thing in the world is beyond me and just one of the things on this album that proves how greatly skilled Sigh are as composers. And that is just one track out of 11. I´ll stop here but you get the picture on how eclectic the music is.

The musicianship is generally on a very high level and the sound production is well sounding and suits the music perfectly. So "In Somniphobia" is through and through a quality release and fans of avant garde/progressive extreme metal should find lots to like here. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Japan may not have the world's most renowned metal scene, but Tokyo's Sigh have gained a reputation as one of the most forward-thinking extreme metal bands on an international scope since their formation in 1990. The band's constantly changing sound and ability to consistently put forth unique albums has impressed avant-garde metal fans for two decades, and In Somniphobia is proof that these giants have no intention of slowing down. This is a weird, weird album that spans nearly every conceivable genre out there, and yet Sigh manages to deliver their sound with consistency and fluidity. Although In Somniphobia is probably too "out there" for your average extreme metal fan, anybody with a craving for forward-thinking and truly innovative metal music is bound to have an absolute blast with what these Japanese masters have conjured this time around.

In Somniphobia served as my introduction to Sigh's music, and although I have since investigated some of their earlier releases, I'm still awestruck by how eclectic this album is. I've really never heard anything like this before, and while some comparisons can be drawn to groups like Mr. Bungle or Unexpect, Sigh is a distinctly different band. The 'black metal' label that is usually used to describe the band is rather minimal, and instead In Somniphobia sounds like a blend of death metal, classical music, progressive rock, jazz fusion, funk, trip-hop, free jazz, pop, psychedelic rock, avant-garde, Arabic music, and just about anything else under the sun. Possibly the most surprising factor about In Somniphobia is that, in spite of its seemingly 'random' nature, Sigh manages to blend all of these vastly different sounds into a cohesive and logical sound - somehow the band makes all of these genres sound as if they were 'meant' to be blended together, and this is unquestionably In Somniphobia's greatest strength.

Take a listen to the twisted, brutal-take-on-lounge-jazz of "Amnesia", for instance. Though most sane people would agree that lounge jazz and death metal don't belong within 100 feet of each other, Sigh begs to differ, and creates a unique concoction of these two vastly different styles - and, most of all, it works exceptionally well. Keep in mind, however, that this is just one out of eleven tracks. Before this album is over, you'll be treated with a strange neo-classical extreme metal sound in "Purgatorium", a Latin jazz rhythm section from hell in "The Transfiguration Fear Lucid Nightmares", a disturbed carnival music opus in the form of "Far Beneath the In-Between", as well as just about anything else the most perverted parts of your brain desire. This is a demanding, disturbed, and extremely challenging record, but Sigh manages to convey their avant-garde sound in a way that still manages to be fun for the open-minded listener.

Although the hour-plus playing time can make for a rather exhausting listen and the unpolished production doesn't quite fit the music in my opinion, these are minor complaints when we're talking about an album that's this damn good. As eclectic and flat-out weird as In Somniphobia may be, Sigh manages to make their one-of-a-kind sound come across as coherent and fluid - something like this can rarely be said about most bands that take a musical approach as decidedly avant-garde as Sigh's. This is a simply spectacular album, and 4 stars is the very least I can give out in this case. Fans of Sigh and avant-garde metal in general owe it to themselves to hear this magnificent opus.

Members reviews

Japan's Sigh is a rather eccentric band. Other than the obsession with having their release titles' first letters match S-I-G-H in that order, there is also the musical style that the band plays in - one that is ever-changing and hard to classify. Ever since my first exposure to the band in the form of Hangman's Hymn I was hooked, with the surprises that were kept in store in all their releases. While Hangman's Hymn featured bombastic orchestral and symphonic elements, 2010's Scenes from Hell saw the band heading towards a darker territory, dropping most of the flamboyant musical display, and In Somniphobia now leaves one wondering which direction the band would choose to take.

And it does not take long for one to know the answer as a melodic lead guitar instantly greets the listener on opening track Purgatorium. Unlike the bombastic sound on Hangman's Hymn and the dark overtone on Scenes from Hell, there is a markedly mellowing down in the band's sound on In Somniphobia, with the increased focus on the melody of the music, and there is even an almost buoyant/hopeful mood in the music. This is especially so with the neo-classical elements that the band has incorporated this time round, such as the usage of violins and a piano on Purgatorium, helping to give a somewhat beautiful and charming touch despite the contradicting gruff growls of Mirai and Dr. Mikkanibal. And it is also the usage of this neo-classical element that helps to mark Sigh as a Japanese band, with the numerous acts out of Japan that tend to utilise such influences in their music, and this is certainly not a complaint seeing how Sigh manages to incorporate these in their style of black metal with ease. Of course, it is also this catchiness in the music that ensures that fans of Sigh would instantly recognise the band despite the rather radical shift in style compared to previous releases.

Sigh's reputation as masters of avant-garde metal is certainly proven in the songwriting of the music that is contained in In Somniphobia, ranging from the usage of proggy synths on The Transfiguration Fear and L'excommunication a Minuit to the sexy-sounding saxophones of Dr. Mikkanibal that are combined seamlessly with the rest of the music. The appeal of the saxophone is especially so on Amnesia, complete with J-rock inspired guitar solos and tasteful pianos that transport the listener into a high-class lounge. There is even a heavy industrial/electronic sound on Somniphobia, displaying the wide range of influences that the band has included on the album. In addition, there are times when the band lets their oriental side shine, such as the percussions on The Transfiguration Fear and the melodies of Somniphobia and Amongst the Phantoms, giving an exotic taste to the album, with the latter helping to keep up that avant-garde style and image of the band.

Numerous sound samples are also littered throughout the album, giving it some sort of a storytelling flow and Opening Theme: Lucid Nightmare even helps to reinforce that haunting mood on the album, though towards the end of the album it starts to get slightly redundant and overwhelming, with the interludes that are included on almost all the tracks which could have perhaps been shortened or left out instead. Despite so, In Somniphobia once again manages to prove that Sigh are the masters of the avant-garde style of black metal, and further explores and improves on the sound that they have created on previous releases.


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