Release DetailsLABEL The End
RELEASED ON 6/12/2007
posted on 6/2007 By:
In my recent black metal sabbatical, one of the names that kept surfacing was Japan’s apparently highly revered Sigh. So when Hangman’s Hymn, the band's eight album, was released, I decided to finally check the band out.
Wow. What took me so long?
Could there be a better label for this band than The End? I think not; avant-garde, progressive, experimentally orchestral black metal that defies limitations and genre requisites.
Now, in researching the band, I found that Sigh has been somewhat of a musical chameleon over their discography, going from an extremely dark, haunting band, to a more challenging, less black metal style of artful soundscapes. Well, from what I can gather, Hangman’s Hymn sees the return of front man Mirai Kawashima’s blackened rasps and mixes them with the playful yet bombastic synths and score of Gallows Gallery. The end result is some of the most impressively epic orchestral work in a black metal album I’ve ever heard--and that includes the mighty Bal-Sagoth.
The thing is, the synths don’t ever make this a traditional symphonic black metal album, but more like the rest of The End’s former and current roster of bands like Arcturus, Age of Silence, Frantic Bleep, Unexpect and Winds. On top of that the music, at least riff wise, is a often blast based, rollicking melding of heavy metal, black metal and thrash. And when flocked with the heavy handed Wagnerian orchestration, Mirai’s maniacal rasps, shrieks and laughs, and a host of guest musical and vocal appearances, the album just enthralls and challenges from beginning to end.
There are so many highlights on this album, it’s just silly. From the bombastic opening of “Introitus / Kyrie”, the unusually catchy choral chorus of “Me-Devil”, the dramatic operatics of “Dies Irae / The Master Malice”, the pure thrash of “Memories of a Sinner”, intense the majesty of “Overture Rex / I Saw The World”, vocal duality of “Salvation In Flames/ Confutatis” through to closer the regally climactic “Finale: Hangman's Hymn / In Paradisum / Das Ende”. The album is just stunning. However, the sixth track, “Death In Dishonor,” is arguably my personal favorite, and its raging pace and fantastic synth tinkling made me do silly things in my car while listening to it on various drives around town. An album hasn’t made me do that since Bal-Sagoth’s Starfire.
My only minor gripe is the drumming of Junichi Harashima, as it seems to vary little from song to song and with the exception of maybe “Dies Irae / The Master Malice” and “In Devil’s Arms”, the pace of the album is virtually identical. Still, that’s like complaining about Cindy Crawford’s mole.
I can well see this on many of year-end lists, and deservedly so. Of course, now I have to take out a loan to catch up on Sigh’s back catalog. I have paypal if anyone would like to contribute.
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