SIGH – Scenes From Hell (2010)

Sigh are one of the most unique metal bands to have ever existed. Their debut, Scorn Defeat, was one of the last to be released by the infamous Deathlike Silence Productions; Euronymous’ well-publicized murder in August of 1993 brought an end to the label, and so Sigh wound up on Cacophonous for their next few albums, gradually refining their music from the jagged thrash/black metal of their beginnings into a more experimental amalgam that married their sound with psychedelic prog-rock and symphonic flourishes (though not always at the same time).

Now before I start talking about what Scenes From Hell sounds like, I’d like you to take a good look at the album cover real quick. Go, examine it – nay, absorb it. Notice the ghastly swirls of colors and the blood-rust palette, the ragged ugliness of the shapes and textures there, and most of all, notice the way the band’s logo hangs from the horn, like a tattered banner of the damned. Well, if ever there was an album cover which captures the sound of the album itself, this is it. In retrospect, the Venom cover album that Sigh released last year now makes sense – it must have inspired them to head in the direction they did here.

So, if you haven’t gathered it yet, allow me to formally fill you in: Scenes From Hell is the most unpolished, raw album Sigh have given us in years (even moreso than the thin power-thrash that comprised 2005’s Gallows Gallery). The production on the album is thick and muddy, as if the songs themselves were decaying under a dying sun somewhere. The dual vocals of Kawasima and Mikannibal sound like tonal lacerations most of the time, and the orchestral passages seem to announce a procession of some sort of infernal legion (think of Hollenthon’s With Vilest of Worms To Dwell, but more unhinged – that’s kind of what these passages sound like). In many ways, it’s the logical stylistic extension of the band’s previous album, Hangman’s Hymn; both albums are musically similar, but the production on Hangman’s Hymn is crystal clear, and all aspects of the varied instrumentation compliment one another. But on Scenes From Hell, even though none of the individual elements clash terribly, everything seems to sound as if it’s at war with everything else.

All told, Scenes From Hell is a strange album, but an oddly fascinating one – it stays in your head after it’s finished, which is no small feat, considering how much disdain the songs here carry for traditional melody and harmony. Sigh have taken themselves to a new level, perfectly melding their expanded musicality with the viciousness of early in 1990’s black metal – the kind that was emerging from Deathlike Silence Productions all those years ago.

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One Response to “SIGH – Scenes From Hell (2010)”

  1. […] metal is going to have as good a year as it did last year, but between Universal and Sigh’s Scenes From Hell, things are definitely going alright with the genre so far in 2010. It’s always gratifying to […]

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