Album Reviews

Sigh – Heir To Despair Review

Record Label: Candlelight Records

Genre: Black Metal/Metal



Line Up:

Mirai Kawashima: Vocals, Flute, Piccolo, Keyboards, Guitar, Taishogoto 
Dr. Mikannibal: Vocals, Alto Saxophone 
You Oshima: Guitar 
Satoshi Fujinami: Bass 
Junichi Harashima: Drums



01. Aletheia 
Homo Homini Lupus 
Hunters Not Horned 
In Memories Delusional 
Heresy Trilogy 
Heresy I: Oblivium 
Heresy II: Acosmism 
Heresy III: Sub Specie Aeternitatis 
Hands Of The String-Puller 
Heir To Despair


If this is the first time that you have happened upon ‘Sigh’ then this will definitely be something special. Having originally formed in Tokyo in 1989 as an Extreme Metal act, signing to the label ‘Deathlike Silence’ which was co-founded by Euronymous from ‘Mayhem, Mirai Kawashima and his band have endeavored to impress and to engage their listeners at every turn. They have kept elements of extreme and black metal in their music since their formation but have since moved in a more experimental direction, starting with their album ‘Hail Horror Hail’ in 1997. Their latest composition “Heir To Despair”, released by Candlelight Records on the 16th of November, is their 11th studio album and is “heavily inspired by old crazy progressive bands like Brainticket, Embryo, Agitation Free, Between, Gentle Giant, Os Mutantes, Modulo 1000, Black Widow, etc.”

Band leader Kawashima describes the album as the “world through the eyes of madness” with the music as “varied as a madman’s thoughts”. Incorporating Japanese musical elements alongside extreme vocals, with a ‘Journey’ and electro inspired middle section, in the slow-burning introduction of Altheia ‘Sigh’ prove how many styles can be meshed together while still sounding cohesive. Homo Homini Lupus is next up, translated as “Man is wolf to man”, and references the English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes who used it to describe “how men would act in the state of nature before we were civilized”. It has already been released as a teaser to the album with Phil Anselmo, former bandmates with Mirai Kawashima in ‘Necrophagia’, unleashing his growling vocals in a straight up mix of extreme and thrash metal.

Hunters Not Horned is a power metal homage with a middle eastern style breakdown before the return to the extreme chaos of In Memories Delusional, the intro of which guitarist Jake E. Lee may query, blending symphonic metal, prog and the traditional Shamisen 3 string guitar. The Heresy Trilogy of Oblivium, Acosmism, and Sub Specie Aeternitatis follow, the first of the trio being a track that would not be out of place at a ‘Massive Attack’ gig before a dive back into unsettling prog weirdness with sounds of babies giggling among fax machines and vocals through a synthesizer. Hands Of The String-Puller sees ‘Sigh’ finding their sea legs before the title track Heir To Despair creates the perfect ten-minute soundtrack for a demented funfair ride.

An interesting note for this album is that the lyrics are mostly in Japanese, which is a change for the band itself. This, for an English speaker, heightens the sense of detachment, one that could possibly allude to the descent into madness that the band is looking for. If your only encounter with Japanese metal bands has been ‘Babymetal’, and this has put you off slightly, then this album will hopefully make you reconsider. As with all ‘Sigh’ records, it will confront and provoke reactions from the listener with an eventual reward, so if you no longer find challenges in your everyday rotation then maybe it’s time to explore this instead.


Written by: Brendan O’Mahony

Ratings: 9/10


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