Sigh - Infidel Art
Cacophonous Records
Black Metal
6 songs (50:56)
Release year: 1995
Sigh, Cacophonous Records
Reviewed by James
Archive review

As Sigh's Scenes From Hell is released this week, what better time to have a look back at the history of the band? Infidel Art is Sigh's second album, and sadly the hardest to get hold of due to various record label “issues”, the band no longer on the infamous Deathlike Silence Productions (although from what I gather there's been a recent vinyl reissue). It's the last time they could be truly called a “black metal” band (although still very much rooted in the 80s tradition). However, it's also very much the band on the way to the refined likes of say, Imaginary Sonicscape, the classical elements woven into the music, rather than as the odd left-turns seen on Scorn Defeat. I refrain from using the term “symphonic black metal” to describe Infidel Art, however- it's far too ugly for that. Opener Izuna is all over the place, lurching between spiteful blackened thrash, to cacophonous free-form piano solos, to attempts at neoclassical pomp (played on the cheapest sub-MIDI keyboards you'll ever find). Whereas Scorn Defeat was weird just because, this time out Sigh are starting to delight in their reputation for sheer lunacy and disdain for song structures. I prefer the less self-conscious, genuinely bizarre atmosphere of Scorn Defeat, but there's still something charming about the way Infidel Art staggers through its' 6 songs, kicking over any notions of how a song is supposed to fit together. The Zombie Terror's probably the most conventional track here, or perhaps it just seems that way because I've listened to it enough times to know it inside out. It's still ten freakin' minutes long and alternates between punkish thrashing and long stretches of organ drones and piano solos. Oh, and it plays us out with Spanish guitar, of all things. Speaking of the guitar work, Shinichi Ishikawa begins to come into his own here. His solos are less frequent, but they're far more melodic than the guitar-bashing tantrums of Scorn Defeat (though I maintain the amateurish musicianship was essential to why that record worked). Indeed, Infidel Art is a tighter, nastier record than its' predecessor, with the faster parts being more vicious slices of volcanic thrash, and the slow parts sounding more agonized than ever (Desolation is utterly suffocating).The only break is in the odd, RPG-sounding opening to The Last Elegy, a track maligned for many fans for its excessive length and weird clean vocals. Still, it's got some great moments, particularly when the chunky mid-paced riffs (the Celtic Frost influence is particularly noticeable here) interplay with the Eastern flute melodies. The guitar solo's pretty awful, admittedly, Shinichi sounding as if he was so drunk recording it he could barely stand, let alone play guitar.

Infidel Art, due in no small part to its' rarity, is something of a lost gem in the Sigh catalogue. It's a transitional record, certainly, the band moving from their position as black metal oddities to avant-metal masters. But there's a certain magic to those early Sigh records that's absent from everything post-Hail Horror Hail, and to dismiss this as badly-played and structured is to miss the point entirely. It's as mental, ugly, and heavy as anything else the band have done, and if you're prepared to track it down you'll find an album easily on par with their more well-recognized material. Even in somewhat limited circumstances, Sigh show the creativity and eccentricity that made them one of Japan's most well-loved musical exports.

Killing Songs :
Izuna, The Zombie Terror, Suicidogenic
James quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Sigh that we have reviewed:
Sigh - Heir to Despair reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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
To see all 10 reviews click here
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