is a Black Metal
band from Japan, maybe the first ever from that country, which formed in Tokyo in 1990. They were somewhat well-known among the black metal scene in the early 1990s for being signed to Deathlike Silence Productions, the record label of Mayhem
guitarist Euronymous. Beginning as a fairly straightforward Black Metal
band, they soon began to experiment with their sound a bit
, settling on a hybrid of Black Metal
, Thrash Metal
, and Symphonic Metal
for Hangman's Hymn
and Scenes from Hell
. In Somniphobia
goes back to the Genre Roulette
of previous works.
The band appeared in the music documentary Global Metal
, where they were particularly known for the line "metal is something cool"
, their particularly vague reaction (and for some, a Take That
) to the Visual Kei
scene that currently dominates Japanese metal. While they are not a Visual Kei
band or associated with it, they occasionally use visuals akin to most avowed VK artists, possibly as part of their Genre-Busting
Current line-up :
- Mirai Kawashima - vocals, keyboard, samples, formerly bass
- Shinichi Ishikawa - guitar
- Satoshi Fujinami - bass, formerly drums & guitar
- Junichi Harashima - drums
- Mika "Dr. Mikannibal" Kawashima - alto sax, vocals
Their major releases follow Theme Naming
, with the first letter of each one being a letter of the word "Sigh".
- Scorn Defeat (1993)
- Infidel Art (1995)
- Ghastly Funeral Theatre (1997; actually an EP rather than full-length but still follows the naming convention)
- Hail Horror Hail (1997)
- Scenario IV: Dread Dreams (1999; their fifth major release but fourth full-length, hence the "IV")
- Imaginary Sonicscape (2001)
- Gallows Gallery (2005; the least Black Metal-sounding of all their albums, a fact which got them dropped from their then-label)
- Hangman's Hymn (2007)
- Scenes from Hell (2010)
- In Somniphobia (2012)
- Graveward (release date unknown; to be recorded in mid-2014)
- Brains and Bondage: Dr. Mikannibal, who really is a doctor of physics.
- Concept Album: Hangman's Hymn for sure, quite possibly Scenes from Hell also.
- Cover Version: Sigh have covered Venom (quite a lot of Venom too, someone in the band must really like them), Necrophagia (not surprising as Mirai was a member of that band for at least one album), John Coltrane, and Death.
- Creator Couple: Mirai and Mikannibal, although the latter is a fairly recent addition to the band.
- Depraved Bisexual: Mikannibal, who is bisexual, seems to cultivate this image on purpose. She has revealed in interviews that she has eaten cockroaches, drinks cow's blood before recording vocals, records vocals naked, and enjoys urethra torture (inflicting it, that is).
- Epic Rocking: Most releases have at least one or two really long songs. Infidel Art has five of them - only one song on that album ("Suicidogenic", at a mere 4:46) is less than eight minutes long.
- Executive Meddling: Century Media refused to release Gallows Gallery because they were expecting a more Black Metal-oriented album. The band initially tried to hide this by spreading a rumor that CM dropped them because of the album's hidden track, which was supposedly created using World War II-era "sonic weaponry" technology and intended to psychologically harm the listener.
- God Is Evil: "The Summer Funeral" includes the line "God is so evil if it was his will".
- Harsh Vocals: On every album except Gallows Gallery. Interestingly, Mikannibal's harsh vocals are usually lower-pitched than Mirai's on Scenes from Hell; on In Somniphobia, she employs a larger variety of vocal styles and can be either higher- or lower-pitched than Mirai, depending on which style she is utilising.
- Loudness War: Most of their albums to some extent, but the two worst offenders: Hangman's Hymn has a ReplayGain value of -12.53 dB, and Scenes from Hell has a value of -12.93 dB. Bloody hell. In Somniphobia appears to be mixed somewhat more quietly, with a value of -9.12 dB (at least on the mp3 version that has leaked; however, this may be due to the large number of lengthy ambient interludes, which probably drag the ReplayGain value up somewhat). Really, everything the band released on CD after 2000 is affected by this trope pretty badly, except, oddly, the original mix of Gallows Gallery (which is basically the only advantage it has over the remaster, which is much clearer in every other respect). This includes remasters of their earlier albums, such as Scorn Defeat; Blood Music's reissue of Gallows Gallery is the exception, being the first release of that album to get the sound right.
- Metal Scream: Both Mirai and Mika use this as their primary vocal style to the point where their vocals are usually pretty much indistinguishable. An exception to this is Gallows Gallery, which contains entirely sung rather than screamed vocals. However, Soprano and Gravel is not uncommon on their recent black metal albums either, as clean vocals are used in a number of their songs since Imaginary Sonicscape's "Requiem - Nostalgia", especially on Hangman's Hymn.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Frequent on their albums, but nowhere near so much as on Imaginary Sonicscape, which could also pretty much be described as musical Genre Roulette, what with oddities like disco and dub reggae breaks being thrown into the middle of almost every song. Not to mention the obligatory classical snippet overlaid with what appears to be several hundred samples of giggling babies that closes the album. In Somniphobia probably doesn't carry this trope out quite as much as Imaginary Sonicscape, but it's probably close.
- New Sound Album: Arguably, most entries in their discography count as this. Gallows Gallery is probably the biggest standout, with the songs being substantially shorter than those on their other albums and featuring substantial Power Metal and NWOBHM influence and no Harsh Vocals, although it could also be considered Genre Adultery since they never did anything else like it.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Hangman's Hymn is full of it, which is to be expected considering that the album is structured as a funeral mass of sorts.
- Recurring Riff: Hangman's Hymn has many recurring melodic lines, riffs, and lyrics, culminating in the title track, which includes a section that's basically a Call Back to all the preceding songs.
- Spoken Word In Music: Shows up occasionally, the most prominent examples being a couple of songs on Scenes from Hell feature narration by David Tibet of Current 93.
- The Something Song: "The Tranquilizer Song".
- Watch It Stoned: Recommended by Mirai himself for In Somniphobia: “Be sure to smoke first, then listen to this with headphones. Bad trip guaranteed.”