Album Review: Sigh – In Somniphobia

Genre bending in metal isn’t a new thing.  Tons of bands do it, tossing bits of other contrasting musical genres in with their brand of metal.  Death metal with bag pipe breakdowns, doom infused with funk bass lines, power metal diving into classical music sections, and so on.  There is also metal mixed with other forms of metal.  I guess you could say that heavy metal is the melting pot of music as there doesn’t seem to be one genre of music that it won’t work with.  Tokyo’s Sigh look to take this statement to the extreme with their new album In Somniphobia.  A staggering number of musical genres makes an appearance on this record (various styles of jazz taking the forefront) all backed by a black metal and NWOBHM core.  This makes an album that is not only rich in content but also a refreshing joy to listen to.

From the moment In Somniphobia kicks off with “Purgatorium” and its huge NWOBHM riffing playing with aggressive black metal vocals you know you are in for a treat.  It’s not long before the genre bending starts to rear it head when bits of orchestral and classical music shows up filling in the blanks and joining to create a boisterous atmosphere.  In a short amount of time the classical bits have totally joined the party with great violin parts taking over the melody duties from time to time and harps and various other instruments really making the song burst with life and a fun-loving personality.  By the time the huge guitar solo hits everything is working in perfection together and my head was banging, fingers were snapping, and body was grooving.

On the next track, “The Transfiguration Fear”, it seems as if they are to continue with the classical influence, but with the tribal and jazzy drum in the intro they hint at something else.  They toss in bits of pop music with Moog keyboard fills they transition into a 70’s prog rock feel with a killer keyboard section which then melds its way into a smooth Jazz sax melody which goes into a ripping guitar solo.  ‘Deep breath’. And then the song finds its self cruising with some thrashy riffs before a poppy upbeat complete with bouncy hand claps joins in with a female choir.  The song continues to run at full pace as it rolls to a fading end with a Western sounding whistling bringing us into the bulk of the insanity of the album, the suite “Lucid Nightmares”.

Here’s where things take a turn for the weird as the suite is introduced with some creepy sci-fi sound effects and an evil and ominous voiceover.  7 of the 11 song on the album make up the “Lucid Nightmares” suite and each part of it has a unique flavor.  To go into detail with each song would take away some of the fun you may have on your first listens as the surprise of how well they incorporate all the genres into smooth running songs was a blast for me to listen to and don’t want to take that away from you (and no, I’m not being lazy, I really feel that way).  Things are on the bizarre side, but the music never crosses, nor comes close to, the spot where it becomes overly difficult or strange to listen to, a balance that Sigh walks perfectly.  I will say that jazz is the favored go-to melding genre and I was especially impressed by “Lucid Nightmares: IV) Amnesia” where they blend in some amazing jazz noir saxophone and piano spawning a blend of metal I’ve never heard before.  It sounded like a 1930’s jazz bar filled with cigar smoke and scotch guzzling demons in Hell.  Just awesome and truly original, these 8 minutes of music are enough to warrant the album purchase alone, luckily everything else around it is great also.

Sending the In Somniphobia to a close are the 2 songs “Fall to the Thrall” and the short suite “Equale”.  “Fall to the Thrall” takes a heavy thrash and death metal groove that oozes with tons of energy.  Bits of piano and orchestral pieces keep things interesting and the mind working.  The “Equale” suite kicks off with a tropical Latin intro before pummeling you with the metal.  As it plays on, chunks of prog rock, folk melodies, classical chimes, Gothic and sci-fi textures, and various other bits round the madness out bringing this amazing piece of work to a close.

If there is one album that has my number one recommendation of 2012, Sigh‘s In Somniphobia has earned it in spades.  I can not stop listening to this album and with each spin I’m discovering more and more awesome bits.  For all the insanity and weirdness, the music is actually pleasing to listen to and causes no aural discomfort what so ever.  If you’re looking for something different, visionary, and goes outside of the box, you need to get your hands on a copy of this album.  This was a fresh surprise discovery and I’m so f’n happy I stumbled across this band and album.  Album of the Year?  Time will tell, but this has a huge and commanding lead over what I’ve heard this year (and some great stuff I’ve heard).  I usually don’t post review scores here, but what the hell, 666 Devil Horns out of 5.  Buy this record!!  Peace Love and Metal!!!

About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on March 20, 2012, in Album Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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