Release Date: 3/13/12
Japan’s Sigh are truly in a league of their own. Sigh’s In Somniphobia is one of the wildest metal albums in existence, probably only topped by Sigh’s own Imaginary Sonicscape (2001). In fact, it’s a veritable conglomeration of Sigh’s black metal roots, as well as the appropriately avant-garde aforementioned album.
In Somniphobia is easily the bands most experimental in years, which is really saying a lot, having extensively delved into the bands entire discography. The ground that is covered in the course of the album’s 64-minute runtime is simply astounding. Writing them out here would read like a laundry list of genre with no discernible thread, but of course, the connection is Sigh. To name but a few elements: there’s black metal, jazz, Middle Eastern scales, Medieval(or just evil)-sounding choirs, symphonic elements, including straight classical-inspired moments, plus string and keyboard orchestrations in all sorts of varying contexts. There’s also this mildly dissonant mid-to-high range synth part that shows up to varying degrees throughout the album, along with several psychedelic auditory references to time, so there’s a level of cohesion providing thematic congruity where being in some sort of hypnogogic nightmare is concerned.
Sigh have carved out a niche in metal that is all their own. I’m sure these descriptors will sound incredibly appealing to a certain subset of experimental and metal music fans, and to those, I implore you to give this album several listens.
Sigh are currently recording their follow-up to 2015’s Graveward (which leans back a little more towards their unique brand of black metal, but still features plenty of genre-jumping… and is quite excellent), which will be titled Heir to Despair, and should be released some time in 2018.
Highlights: If you listen to only select songs you miss the twists and turns. It’s written as a cohesive project, i.e., an album, so I highly recommend sticking through the whole thing, but if one must: “Somniphobia,” “Amongst the Phantoms of Abandoned Tumbdrils”