SIGH – Gallows Gallery

Japan’s legendary cult metal band, SIGH, is finally back with their latest album, Gallows Gallery. As has become their modus operandi, you never know what each successive album brings as SIGH’s twisted creativity has no bounds and Gallows Gallery is no exception. This is perhaps the band’s most straight forward and heaviest album to date especially coming off the ultra psychedelic, Imaginary Sonicscape. Classic heavy metal and thrash metal are the main driving forces powering Gallows Gallery. Fear not however, as SIGH’s infamous knack for genre blending is abundant here. Band leader, Mirai Kawashima, exclusively uses clean vocals and executes it to perfection. His vocals are a little reminiscent of King Diamond but without as many higher notes and falsettos. The album’s first four tracks burst out of the gates with power. By the end of the fourth track, “Confessions to be Buried,” the tempo and intensity slow down considerably and things begin to shift off into that trademark SIGH dream-like state. The aptly titled, “The Tranquillizer Song,” take the listener into a tripped out world that soothingly levitates off the ground with organs, minimoogs, theremin, and plenty of string orchestration. The intensity then picks up and regains full momentum with the excellent, “Silver Universe.” SIGH then shifts gears again with the mushroom-laden melancholy of “Gavotte Grim” that juxtaposes horror soundtracks, melodic guitar, string orchestration, and traditional Japanese music. “Messiahplan” truly brings it all home with the spirit of classic heavy metal and ends the studio tracks on Gallows Grim in grand style. The album marks a line-up change and shift for the band as longtime drummer, Satoshi Fujinami, moves over to bass/guitar and the more skilled Junichi Harashima steps in. There is a slew of guest musicians including Niklas Sundin (DARK TRANQUILLITY), Gus G. (FIREWIND/NIGHTRAGE), Bruce Lamont (YAKUZA), and Gunface (THE RED CHORD). The only downside of having so many guest guitar solos is that it takes away from those who want to hear more of Shinichi Ishikawa’s guitar heroics. Perhaps the only bad aspect of this otherwise excellent album is the poor production. It downright upsetting to hear and it really takes away from the listeners in hearing the full experience in clear detail. The finger can undoubtedly be pointed at their former label, which provided next to nothing in terms of a budget and then refused to put out the album. In the end though, Gallows Gallery is another triumph for one of the underground’s best. (Red Stream Inc./Baphomet Records)

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