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Sigh - "Scenes From Hell" (CD)

Sigh - "Scenes From Hell" CD cover image

"Scenes From Hell" track listing:

1. Prelude to the Oracle (4:12)
2. L'art de Mourir (4:57)
3. The Soul Grave (4:01)
4. The Red Funeral (6:56)
5. The Summer Funeral (7:08)
6. Musica in Tempora Belli (6:01)
7. Vanitas (6:26)
8. Scenes from Hell (3:35)

Reviewed by on November 29, 2009

"Sigh expertly blends two genres together with musical story-telling, creating music that is entirely unlike any other band that I have heard."

Hailing from Tokyo, Japan, Sigh is a band that stands out among most bands associated with the black metal genre. Difficult to fit into one category, Sigh blends sinister black metal guitar work with epic orchestral instrumentation. The blend is a cacophonous, yet incredibly well composed, amalgamation of beauty and brutality.

“Scenes from Hell” is an album that must be taken in all at once to appreciate it. Sigh’s signature music style is ever-present from the beginning: catchy, theatrical, and usually epic. The music is driven less by the drums and guitar work and more by the unusual instrumentation. Listening to the music is like watching a brutal theatrical performance unfold.

The span of instruments on this album is stunning. From the saxophone, tuba, and trumpet to the clarinet, oboe, piano and strings, every instrument finds its part on the album and creates an eerie and frantic atmosphere that is brilliantly conducted and incredibly engaging. Although these instruments take front and center, Sigh is definitely not afraid to let the guitar work shine. Several songs feature screaming solos (such as "Prelude to the Oracle" and "The Soul Grave") that don’t sound the least bit out of place among the grandeur. The rest of the guitar work consists of tremolo work, along with melodic riffs that are intermingled perfectly with the rest of the music.

The best part about this album is that each song seems to tell a story. The whole album is seamed together so well that I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some sort of story being told throughout. Each song has its cool little elements that set it apart from the others. Sigh expertly blends two genres together with musical storytelling, creating music that is entirely unlike any other band that I have heard.

I have only a few problems with this album, and they are very minor. The vocals seem to get a little lost in the mix and the album ends rather abruptly. I was kind of expecting a long, drawn out ending, but neither of these things detracts much from the experience.

“Scenes from Hell” is a radiant, blisteringly beautiful album. Sigh creates a very specific atmosphere with their music, providing for an exceptionally entertaining experience.

Highs: Impeccable conductorship, songs are very well written.

Lows: Vocals seem to get a little lost.

Bottom line: Epic music blending orchestral beauty with the brutality of black metal.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)