Review 1345 : Sigh – Shiki – English

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Sigh’s madness speaks again.

Since 1990 (or 1989 under the name Ultra Death), Mirai Kawashima (vocals/keyboards/traditional flute, ex-Cut Throat, ex-Necrophagia), accompanied by Satoshi Fujinami (bass) and Dr. Mikannibal (vocals/saxophone) has been offering some… unique sound, based on Black Metal roots. In 2022, the band announced the release of Shiki, their thirteenth opus, on Peaceville Records.

The band was helped by Frederic Leclercq (Kreator, Amahiru, Loudblast, Sinsaenum, ex-DragonForce…) for guitars, and by Mike Heller (Fear Factory, Amahiru, Malignancy, ex-System Divide) for drums.

Kuroi Inori opens us the doors of this album, which will really start with Kuroi Kage, a mysterious track which lets keyboards fascinate us before screams come to life to bring this disturbing dimension. The sound becomes more and more oppressive, and even during this majestic passage, we feel darkness that lurks nearby, but also in parts with Folk influences before the haunting sound of Shoujahitsumetsu wraps us in this veil of softness, quickly torn away by raw rage and devastating blast. Vocals are also more tortured, but we feel epic influences in these frenzied leads which perfectly fit the fury which will finally let Shikabane introduce solid Heavy Metal influences wonderfully combined with airy darkness and disturbing sounds. The Progressive and Avant-Garde touch is always present to offer worked passages, whether they are violent, soaring or worrying like these choirs, then Satsui – Geshi No Ato comes to unveil us a catchy rhythmic on which uncontrollable screams compete with a mystical singing while keeping this unique sound with Asian influences. We will also find very soft parts like this long final, then Fuyu Ga Kuru places us in the middle of this abrasive sound contrast, which reveals an impressive and as aggressive as bewitching vocal range before the rhythmic takes over. The final part leads us to Shouku, a composition which I would qualify as more traditional while remaining anchored in this devastating darkness with bursts of madness which mostly appear through keyboards and airy leads or through this strange final, then the short Kuroi Kagami offers us a moment of respite under a storm. We meet a simple rhythmic accompanied by a voice, then Mayonaka No Kaii, the first track unveiled to introduce the album, comes to mesmerize us before hitting us with its aggressive saturation. The soothing contrast between the two universes is perfectly managed, making us navigate between the two extremes, then Touji No Asa comes to close this opus with traditional Folk sounds which remind us of the introduction tones. Then nothingness traps us.

Sigh remains faithful to its ideals by offering a qualitative work which is not for everyone. Indeed, Shiki is mad, as controlled as uncontrollable and as dark as bewitching, drawing from the Black Metal roots as well as unexpected complexity. Once again, it is a masterpiece.


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