In my opinion Mirai Kawashima of Sigh is on par with the great Ihsahn when it comes to talent and vision within the progressive black metal community. The first album that really got my attention was “Imaginary Soundscape” from 2001. While I didn’t discover it til much later, the album does not sound 21 years old. It was ahead of its time and still is. “Scenes From Hell” took Sigh into a gloomier, sludgier direction. It sounded like it was actually recorded in hell. And another favorite of mine was 2018’s “Heir to Despair” which proved that Mirai, Dr. Mikannibal and Sigh were very much still on the top of their game. Now we get “Shiki” which is based around a traditional Japanese poem. It’s the next chapter in the long incredible career of this band.
The album opens with the 16 seconds of “Kuroi Inori” which is pretty forgettable. But what is anything but forgettable is the sledgehammer hook on “Kuroi Kage.” This is Sigh at its most epic. The riff just pounds. It’s a slower pace which just makes the all out assault of “Shoujahitsumetsu” all the more mindblowing. The album is off to an incredible start. And of course, it’s not easily comparable to anything from Sigh’s past. Not exactly anyway. The chugging riff on “Shikabane” is yet another change of pace. The song forces you to bob your head along with it. Mirai spits out the vocals with his usual venom. Not being able to speak Japanese has no bearing. You can feel the emotion and power. And the drum fills and guitar soloing just add to the track. Awesome.
Mike Heller deserves mention for his drum work on the album as a whole. Not just on “Shikabane” but then the next track “Satsui – Geshi No Ato” is a showcase for his playing. A band is only as good as their drummer, as I have always said, and Heller is incredible. What a track!! The album just flows too. It is one great song after another. The relentless “Fuyu Ga Kuru” is yet another one. But Mirai does like to keep listeners on their toes, so even this track has an oasis in it.
Are their weak moments? Not really. While the opening intro and the minute long “Kuroi Kagami” aren’t essential, they don’t detract from the album either. The album takes another wild turn with “Mayonaka No Kaii” which to me has a Mr Bungle type vibe. Not uncommon for Sigh. This track was released as a video and makes for a great intro to this band. Just the usual insanity from Sigh. The album closes out with the peaceful “Touji No Asa” which is a nice way to gently let the listener off the sonic meathook of the album. “Shiki” is one of Sigh’s best albums to date. And it’s amazing to me that they still surprise me with their music. It’s not easy music to handle but it is so rewarding. Great things are.
Release Date: 26 August 2022
- Kuroi Inori
- Kuroi Kage
- Satsui – Geshi No Ato
- Fuyu Ga Kuru
- Kuroi Kagami
- Mayonaka No Kaii
- Touji No Asa