By Dr. Abner Mality
It is always a journey with SIGH, but "Shiki" seems to be a particularly dark one. Using Google Translate to interpret the Japanese song titles here, I discover that virtually every song here revolves around death or the passing of seasons. It is band mastermind Mirai coming to grips with his own mortality and converting that experience into music.
As always, it's a challenging listening adventure not afraid to use lots of different sounds and instruments, but it is actually more straightforward than other SIGH albums, particularly the last one "Heir To Despair", which was really crazy. That fits, because that dealt with mental illness, but "Shiki" is a darker beast. It ends in a much different place than it begins. After a brief intro, "Kuroi Kage" is quite primitive and heavy, with a lumbering, almost CELTIC FROST feel to the doomy riffing. The vocals are a torrent of harsh Japanese babbling that is kind of exhausting; although different vocal styles appear, this is the predominant fashion here. From this dark and basic beginning, the songs begin to expand and experiemt.
.The jaw-breaking "Shoujahitsumetsu" has more aggressive black metal energy mixed with creepy cinematic touches...a SIGH trademark. The songs are generally heavy, but have proggy detours and sometimes feature sax and flute."Satsui--Geshu No Ato" and "Fuyu Ga Kuru" are unpredictable excursions...unpredictable yet never jarring. There's traces of 60's and 70's rock mixed with metal. By the time "Mayanake No Kaii" flies in, we hear SIGH at its most retro and yet paradoxically its most forward-thinking. The final instrumental "Touji No Asa" is surprisingly peaceful and perhaps represents Mirai accepting his own demise.
I haven't even started to list all the quirks in this one...those are for you to find out. This is one of the most daring metal bands on the planet firing on all cylinders...Mirai and Dr. Mikannibal are joined this time by KREATOR's Frederick Le Clerq and FEAR FACTORY's Mike Heller, along with others. If you have enough nerve to leave behind predictable old tropes, join SIGH and explore the darkness of "Shiki".