Sigh Graveward

I’ve hit a wall. I’m having trouble finding anything new that I like right now. So I’ll do a negative review. Thanks for the suggestions I’ve received the past week. I’ll check them out soon.

I do want to reiterate the mission of the blog: to seek out and describe metal that achieves a status as art alongside other more widely recognized art music. This is why I hesitate to do negative reviews. It doesn’t advance that cause. It merely reminds people that 90% of everything is crap.

Sigh is a Japanese experimental metal band. They’ve been around since 1989, so this isn’t some inexperienced attempt at being original. You couldn’t tell by listening to it. This album switches around from Diablo Swing Orchestra style, carnival music influences, horror movie, thrash, cartoon metal (I made that up, we’ll come back to it later), power metal, symphonic, and more.

The first track is all over the place, but it is probably one of the most consistent. I heard it and thought maybe I could get into the album. Then it continued. Until the last few tracks, the album steadily gets worse.

I’ll try to articulate what turned me off as best I can. The band never takes itself too seriously, but there is a seriousness to much of the album. I mean this in the sense that many of the songs are trying to be “art” with its experimentation. Clarifying what I mean is difficult here, because it is some vague sense I get. Maybe a better way to say it is that they aren’t intentionally making a joke or doing it to be silly (as some bands I enjoy do, see 6:33).

But then we get to a track like “The Tombfiller.” This is cringe-worthy levels of silliness. All I see are cartoon characters doing ridiculous, immature things to each other at over-the-top fast speeds. It could fit right in as a theme song to this type of thing, i.e. “cartoon metal.”

I think that is what bothers me so much. It isn’t so much the pulling on lots of styles. It is the inconsistency of mood. If they were silly all the time, I say the album needs to be taken as a joke and evaluate it as such. If they were weird, but making a serious attempt at something, I could evaluate it as such. Instead, they have this mismatch where I’m not even sure they understand when they’ve crossed the line from weird to being a joke.

This mismatch continues with their lyrics. In “The Forlorn,” we get the most ridiculous lyrics:

Lead Singer: I am not dead!
Chorus: Sorry!
Lead Singer: I am not dead!

and on and on it goes.

If you listen to the lyrics you would think this is a huge parody and a joke, but this is one of their most serious sounds musically. The music doesn’t match the lyrics at all, and the lyrics are grating in how repetitive and nonsensical they are.

We get the same problem in the next track.

Am I god or am I not?
It doesn’t matter I’m destined to rot.
Am I god or am I not?
I’m going to lose all I have got.

The music is some strange symphonic metal / hip-hop fusion. I wish it was funny, so I could laugh. I wish it wasn’t some faux seriousness, so I could be less embarrassed for them about how bad those lyrics are. I know metal isn’t known for producing brilliant poetry, but these lyrics are childish.

Overall, the album suffers because it has no idea what it wants to be. By trying to be everything, it ends up being nothing. This is sad, because the penultimate track shows they know how to make a song with a pretty good melody, development, and use the symphonic elements to enhance what they are doing. I understand that making a whole album of these songs would ruin their avant-garde schtick, but it would make for a reasonable album. Instead we’re left with this mess.

Overall, I’ll give it a 2/10. Here’s a sample:


5 thoughts on “Sigh Graveward

  1. Tim says:

    I’m all for experimentation, but man that was pretty awful. It’s like they’re purposely trying to sound corny, but not in a funny or light-hearted way.

    Anyway, Pyrrhon has a new EP out, I don’t know if you’ve checked it out yet, but I remember The Mother of Virtues was on last year’s mid-year list. Personally, I like the feel of the EP a little better (not quite as much noise, a little more grind). You can listen on their bandcamp.

  2. David says:

    This is all very Japanese. Asia has a tendency towards mere appearances. They’re the extreme of not taking anything with “meaning” seriously. This album seems like the essence of Japanese popular attitude towards any kind of art. If it’s cute or funny, it goes.

  3. Eden says:

    Checked out the new BTBAM?

  4. Ryan says:

    When I found out that this was inspired by Italian zombie flicks, the music made more sense.

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