Sigh's ninth album was described upon its release by vocalist Mirai Kawashima as "your sonic nightmare," but regardless of who owned it, it sounded less like sheer horror than the kind of giddy dream when a bunch of ideas come together and work just right. Right from the rollicking punch of "Purgatorium"'s start, it's little surprise to hear Sigh busting out moves that Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Darkthrone could each appreciate in equal parts. But the strings and sweetness that emerge as the song progresses give a sense as to their modernity as well -- a classic combination of everything that superior Japanese artists seem to always do better than anyone else, redoing possibilities from everywhere into their own distinct sounds. As a result, that "The Transfiguration Fear Lucid Nightmares" sounds simultaneously like a romantic classic Mexican movie number and a chorus of the damned seems only appropriate. "Amongst the Phantoms" throws in a mock-heroic horn break, crazy soloing, and a conclusion that sounds like chimes being tortured (for the higher purposes of art, of course). Ultimately there's a feeling of carnival at play almost in a Tim Burton sense, with "Somniphobia" itself starting as a slow multipart crawl leading to breaks for twinkly silence and suddenly giddy feelings. "L'excommunication a Minuit" feels like something at once goonily classical and funny and rampaging, down to funky organ breaks. "Equals" isn't far behind with its own mellow '70s groove beginning, at least before the hero guitars kick in. Then there's "Amnesia" aiming for the slow and sassy, however rasped or distorted the vocals, before ending with soft rock keyboards and backwards tapes.
In Somniphobia Review
by Ned Raggett