Sigh may be a name synonymous with avant-garde metal weirdness, but such shock has inevitably become formula after over two decades of it. The band’s eleventh full-length album is business as usual, featuring all the hyperactive genre-hopping and nightmarish theatrics that fans have come to expect from them. Specific motifs like the electronics that pop up on the “Heresy” suite even trigger direct associations with past albums like 2012’s In Somniphobia.
However, Heir to Despair does stand out for being the band’s most distinctly ‘Japanese’ album. Despite what the mostly English song titles would suggest, the lyrics are delivered almost exclusively in the band’s native language and songs like the opening “Alethia” feature a slew of Japanese folk instrumentation alongside the band’s staples. Clean vocals are additionally more prominent and there’s a heavy emphasis on flute playing as well, which is great to hear even if the saxophone is practically nonexistent as a result.
And with that, the band’s strong musicianship and varied songwriting are presented at full force. Following the somewhat doomy opener, “Homo Homini Lupus” bursts in with peppy rhythms and flamboyant guitar work. I also appreciate the haunting slow burn of “Heresy I: Oblivium” and its transitions to its briefer sequels, including the unnervingly ethereal “III: Sub Species Aeternitatis,” even if the former could ironically afford to be shorter while the latter could’ve been expanded. Fortunately, the ten-minute title track justifies its length with low key swing and more creepy atmospherics.
It’s hard to tell if Sigh isn’t as out there as they used to be or if we’re all just used to it, but we can at least guarantee that they’re still capable of crafting enjoyable material. Heir to Despair may not be the band’s mind-blowing effort ever but it does feature some great tracks and the indigenous elements scattered throughout give it something for even the most jaded fans to latch onto. Nothing feels recycled or cynical and as long as the band can keep that up, we’ll likely stay happy with more of the same.
“Homo Homini Lupus”
“Heresy I: Oblivium”
“Heir to Despair”
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