“Heir To Despair”

By Dr. Abner Mality

An examination of mental illness is nothing new in the metal world, but I can think of few bands better equipped to undertake it than Japan’s mercurial and unpredictable Sigh. Their whole unorthodox career seems to be an apt preparation for a concept album based on insanity. And they show that they are up to the task here because “Heir To Despair” will have you ready for the musical rubber room.

Nothing is off limits for Sigh here. They will use any instrument, any genre of music, any variation of sound to construct their songs. So if you’re the kind of Neanderthal that’s only interested in the typical guitar/bass/drum set up, run as far as possible from this album. First song “Aletheia” alone throws flute, violin, piano and more into its unorthodox and rather psychedelic framework. And did I mention that most of the lyrics are in Japanese? The thing is, the song is compulsively listenable and a real breath of fresh air in a field dominated by stale formula.

I can compare this in some ways to the latest album from A Forest of Stars, which sounds similarly demented and unpredictable. But the sound here is Sigh’s and Sigh’s alone. “Homo Homini Lupus” is more fierce and metallic but still has that certain craziness in its construction. “Hunters Not Horned” is also quite heavy but more epic and almost operatic…the musical equivalent to megalomania. And then things start to get REALLY weird, with the bizarre “Heresy” trilogy which borders on Carl Stallings cartoon music with weird froggy voices and outrageous song structure. The album finally ends with the ten minute plus title track, which ties everything together in a knot.

Wild and challenging it is, but that’s what makes it refreshing. I’m actually more than ready for an album that I can be surprised by. Maybe you are, too….