Tokyo’s SIGH make a triumphant return to form with their latest, In Somniphobia. In many ways, the album is a return to the band’s bread and butter of off the wall genre blending, atmosphere, and unique creativity that characterized what could be described the band’s middle era. The speed, aggression, and decadence of SIGH‘s previous two albums, Hangman’s Hymn and Scenes from Hell, are still present but play a less dominant role in the album’s sound.
Generally speaking, In Somniphobia can be characterized as having a fast, aggressive beginning and end with a middle section that explores the atmospheric and experimental side of the band.
Opening track, “Purgatorium,” makes a decadent and energetic entrance with its fast pace, aggression, and bombastic classical influence. “The Transfiguration Fear Lucid Nightmares” gallops along with great energy and has a great combo of intense Afro percussion, clean female vocals, saxophone, psychedelia, a spaghetti Western film soundtrack, and even perfectly placed hand claps. SIGH return to the SABBATH doom meets tripped out psychedelia style from 2001′s Imaginary Sonicscape on “Somniphobia.” The song is a trip in and of itself with multiple layered tracks of instrumentation, voices, and vocals.
However, SIGH don’t stop there. They take the listener to deeper depths of mind altered states for the middle chunk of In Somniphobia. They bust out their jazz, prog, Hammond organ, vocoder, Eastern instrumentation, 60′s/70′s rock influences, and more to pull you deeper into an entranced state.
“Amongst the Phantoms of Abandoned Tumbrils” brings the speed and intensity back up. The main melodic riffs are beautifully melancholic. The accordion parts add to the melancholy and add yet another dimension to the album’s sound. Determined to bring on home, the band race to the finish with “Fall to the Thrall” and “Equale….” The latter has one of the greatest metal riffs of all time. Once you listen to the song, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
There’s no shortage of creativity and cleverness on In Somniphobia. Fans that enjoyed Imaginary Sonicscape and Gallows Gallery will find much in common here in the album’s middle section. Guitarist Shinichi lays down his trademark jaw dropping guitar hero solos and drummer Junichi‘s performance is by far his best and adds a very strong and musical dimension. Dr. Mikannibal‘s low growls perfectly compliment Mirai‘s higher lead vocals and her saxophone only adds to the eclectic feel.
Few albums capture true heavy metal spirit while also delivering one of the most unique styles in metal like In Somniphobia. It’s easily one of the best albums in 2012. Rejoice, SIGH is as eclectic and eccentric as ever. (Candlelight Records)