Sigh - Hangmans Hymn
The End Records
Symphonic Blackened Thrash
10 songs (44'19")
Release year: 2007
Sigh, The End Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

I am sure I speak for many by saying that 2007 Sigh release was a much anticipated album. For one, let’s hope for the band’s sake that The End Records will be a stable and welcoming home for a while, where Sigh would be an excellent fit with the roster full of eclectic and talented, but out-there, acts. Also, Mirai Kawashima, the leader of this talented Japanese quarter, has been dropping hints using the word “symphonic and bombast”, and that certainly was either going to be a hit or a miss. And finally from the personal angle, truth be told, I really never got into Gallows Gallery no matter how I tried, perhaps the subconscious thinking in my brain being that playful power metal and shitty production simply do not go hand-in-hand together.

Let me cut right to the chase. I am in awe of Hangman’s Hymn. I can’t get enough of the album, I can’t stop playing it and I have run out of epithets trying to describe it. From the band that combined black metal, jazz, lounge music, dance, 70s rock and, most recently, power metal, their symphonic permutation of aggressive blackened thrash could not have been more fulfilling. The orchestration on Introitus/Kyrie and Me-Devil are a prime example how symphonic elements, both real and synthesized, can add craziness and frenzy instead of empty pomp and circumstance. I have not heard the trumpets adding so much more pizzazz to the songs since Hollenthon’s Y Draig Goch and Woe to the Defeated from With the Vilest of Worms to Dwell or … maybe ever. And while Hangman’s Hymn is just as quirky, Hollenthon is never as speedy or frenetic.

While not entirely a concept album, Hangman’s Hymn definitely has a “theme” going through it. Lyrically, it is Mirai’s disdain for the weak and the meek, those who hang on to their pathetic religious beliefs or empty riches. Musically, there is definitely a thread going from Introitus/Kyrie to Death with Dishonor to Overture/Rex Tremendae/ I Saw the World’s End to the final closing title track. The album encompasses an endless variety of moods - antsy, creepy, uplifting, religious and psychotic – and this makes the album boundlessly interesting. If Me-Devil is almost theatrical, in a crazy Broadway sense, then Death with Dishonor patriotic melody reminds me about the movies of my youth, when victorious Red Army mowed every single enemy on a TV screen. And for those who clamor for more aggression there is enough to grab onto here as well, especially in Acts II and III. Salvation is Flame/Confutatis is pure demonic and Faustian, enhanced with demented spoken vocals. Dies Irae/The Master Malice and The Memories as a Sinner are plenty nasty, with non-stop blastbeats and woven melody of the latter elevating the song to a subtleness of a desperately approaching locomotive. In Devil’s Arms is just as extreme, quivering wind section only adding to the feeling. On the other hand, when the band wants to be soothing they can do so with cinematographic Kyrie or Das Ende giving reprieve from Armageddon.

Symphonic and orchestration do not mean that guitars are unheard on Hangman’s Hymn. Instead, the tubed out sound of the instrument on The Master Malice and Rex Tremendae/I Saw the World’s End is what makes the songs so powerful. Solos on Introitus/Kyrie and Rex Tremendae/I Saw the World’s End bring back a forgotten feeling of Imaginary Sonicscape. Vocally, there is not much soft underbelly either. Mirai’s rasp is in top form, some female and clean backing vocals simply filling out the palette. Not using any operatic singers for the album turned out to be a great decision, further proving individuality of Sigh.

Hangman’s Hymn is a work of tremendously talented individuals fusing and processing their creative vision, love of thrash and classical influences, such as Wagner and Khachaturian. I could point out this album again to Hollenthon (requiem style orchestration), Bal-Sagoth (maddening synths and storytelling), King Diamond (delirious laughs and atmosphere) or Germanic and blackened Finnish thrash fans as worthy of their perusal. Instead, I am going to throw the net broader. If you are into metal and really want to hear something unusual and unique, try this album on.

Killing Songs :
One tremendous listening experience
Alex quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Sigh that we have reviewed:
Sigh - Graveward reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sigh - In Somniphobia reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Sigh - Ghastly Funeral Theatre reviewed by Crash and quoted no quote
Sigh - Scenes From Hell reviewed by James and quoted 82 / 100
Sigh - Infidel Art reviewed by James and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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