12 March 2012
Sigh’s latest album, In Somniphobia, has wrinkled my brain. After reviewing a bunch of straight up metal albums, I’m suddenly faced with a barrage of instruments, genres, concepts, soundscapes, and yes, even a saxophone solo. Suddenly I have to think about things. Catchy riffs and sing along choruses are no longer the order of the day – we’ve gone far beyond that. Imagine black metal with, well, everything bolted on.
Opener ‘Purgertorium’ blasts out of the blocks in an almost Gothenburg, style, all solos and harmonies, then segues into weird 60s keyboard noodling, sweeping piano sections and yes, the saxophone. All backed with black metal sneering growls, double bass drumming and all sorts of riffery. And yet somehow it all works together. It’s not the absolute fucking mess it should be. Held together by a vague running theme of dreams and nightmares, the jumble of genres and styles are piled into the mix actually sounds like it’s tuned to a radio from 200 years into the future (Static and tuning-squeals between songs and all)
Some of the albums greatest moments come straight out of leftfield. ‘The Transfiguration Fear’ may be the closest thing to black metal on the album, but still has a melody catchy enough to be used on an 80s cartoon. ‘Ending Theme: Continuum’, includes some dark, brooding electronica – something like a metal’d up Bruial, while ‘Equale’ is one part Santa Esmeralda, one part Early Dimmu Borgir, and two parts Danny Elfman. If that description has you scrunching your face up and saying ‘huh?’ – imagine what you’ll do when you hear it.
Listen to ‘Purgertorium’ by Sigh:
In terms of Sigh’s back catalogue, this would have to be the spiritual successor to Imaginary Sonicscape - far less metal orientated and far more experimental. If I had to fault it, it would be that experimental sometimes wanders off into self indulgent territory. The title track in particular suffers from a lack of direction. Over seven minutes of soundtrack-y noodling. This is an exception though – most of the time you don’t get the chance to focus in too hard before getting beaten with another bunch of weirdness.
Certainly one of the most interesting releases this year, or any year. If you’re looking for something that goes beyond metal, it’s well worth a listen.
Sounds Like: Ulver. And not much else.
Standout Tracks: The Transfiguration Fear, Equale.