SIGH — Hail Horror Hail (review)

SIGH — Hail Horror Hail album cover Album · 1997 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
SIGH has become one of Japan’s most interesting musical exports as this band has consistently dished out some of the most wickedly fun avant-garde metal since its debut in 1993 with “Scorn Defeat.” While more famous for the bizarre Bungle-esque antics heard on lauded releases such as “Imaginary Sonicscape,” SIGH actually started or at least tried to start out as a bona fide black metal band but even from the very beginning where all intentions were tarnished with face paint and Scandinavian frigidity, SIGH was like a fish out of water and as time went on instead of retreating and becoming irrelevant, SIGH opted to reinvent itself and become the wild and bizarre Japanese freak show that it is now so good at.

It was clear by the second album “Infidel Art” that SIGH’s ambitions were too large to be contained within a single aisle at the metal music supermarket as that album displayed not only black metal ambitions but ventured into excessive symphonic, progressive and doom metal enterprises. Realizing they had to make their own way in the world, SIGH went for broke on its third album HAIL HORROR HAIL and dived headfirst into its own brand of avant-garde metal that was designed to be more of a soundtrack for an insane asylum than a good old fashioned metal music experience from the known universe. In fact the inner sleeve of the album issued a warning that the album was essentially a movie without pictures and the film jumps from scene to scene unexpectedly with the intent of narrating some bizarre story that remains nebulous.

While black metal remains at the heart of SIGH’s art metal sound, the band that consisted of three members: Mirai (vocals, bass guitar, synthesizer, piano, Hammond organ, vocoder, sampling, programming, radio, effects), Shinichi (acoustic and electric guitar, bass guitar) and Satoshi (drums, triangle, tambourine, guiro, vibraslap, handclap) doesn’t sound like a black metal band at all. True there are distorted metal guitar riffs and Mirai’s frantic attempt at rasping it up on the vocals but the album engages in healthy doses of symphonic orchestrations and has song structures that are more akin to progressive rock than anything coming out of Norway at the time. While the opening title track may seem like a normal extreme metal track only decked out in a black’n’roll type of boogie swagger, the album quickly deviates into mondo bizarro territory and in effect provided the blueprint for which SIGH would build its entire future around.

While metal is the name of the game bonding the whole crazy scene together, tracks like “Invitation To Die” drop the metal altogether and instead create a symphonic orchestral sound that breaks out the woodwinds and piano as the main instruments leaving the raspy vocals as the only indication that SIGH is a metal band at all. “Pathetic” starts out sounding like a symphonic rock version of the James Bond theme song that follows suit and makes you wonder if SIGH had now abandoned metal altogether in favor of multi-layered orchestrations that aspire to a career of action movie soundtracks but then “Curse Of Izanagi” resumes the black metal du jour however it retains the symphonic effects and even cranks out a stealthy guitar solo. Clearly SIGH was becoming an unhinged loose canon taking metal to places never conceived of and the world would never be the same.

The album culminates with the 9 minute plus grand finale “Seed Of Eternity” which finds the band’s newfound liberties stretching out into untethered progressive excesses. The track pretty much brings together the black metal bombast, the blues rock, symphonic orchestrations and stealthy meandering compositional approach that would continue on up to “Imaginary Sonicscape” and launch SIGH’s bizarre interpretation of metal music into the larger international scene. Overall HAIL HORROR HAIL is a more focused affair than some of the album’s that follow but pinpoint the exact moment when the band had an apparent realization that they weren’t like the rest of the kids on the playground and decided to embrace it as a strength rather than a weakness and for that we can only be grateful that these musical freaks had enough self-confidence to sally forth into the brave new world of avant-garde metal with no restrictions.
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UMUR wrote:
11 days ago
Sigh are highly recommendable. Just expect quite a different sound on the albums.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 days ago
There's just too damn much music to explore!
adg211288 wrote:
12 days ago
One band I really should take the time to check out. Don't know why I haven't already to be honest.

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