APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2018

What a glorious year in metal we just experienced.  After the sheer amount of quality albums that were released in 2018, there is no question that the genre is as healthy and full of life as ever.  Thus, making our top albums lists harder than usual.

For the APESHIT goons, 2018 was the year where the legends all shined.  JUDAS PRIEST led the charge with their best album since 1990’s Painkiller.  DIMMU BORGIR finally emerged from a long slumber and did not disappoint. VOIVOD remain the gods that the mass metal media won’t acknowledge as such.  We can’t really think of any letdowns.  Can you?

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WINDS/AGE OF SILENCE Leader Andy Winter Launches First Music Video

After releasing his latest full length solo album Incomprehensible on The End Records in January 2013, ANDY WINTER (WINDS, AGE OF SILENCE, SCULPTURED) now returns with his first ever music video; an artistic collaboration by various talents in the realm of music, film and fashion.

Musically speaking, “Uncountably Infinite” is a stylistic departure from Andy Winter’s usual style of subdued and progressive art-rock. The sound takes on a more metallic edge with harsher and rougher tones, featuring a crunchy wall of guitars courtesy of Andy Winter himself, complimented by the vocals of Mirai Kawashima (SIGH), bass playing of Jason William Walton (AGALLOCH, SCULPTURED), drumming of Jan Axel von Blomberg AKA Hellhammer (WINDS, MAYHEM, ARCTURUS), and guitar solo by Donald Anderson (AGALLOCHSCULPTURED).

Starring in the video is actress and burlesque dancer Tristan Risk, most recently featured in the cult horror film “American Mary” by The Soska Sisters.

APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2012

As another great year for heavy music comes to a close, APESHIT takes a look back at our favorite pieces of music of 2012. This year had some great comebacks in CRYPTOPSY and STRIFE. There were also some nice surprises in the new sheer quality of the new SIX FEET UNDER and brutality of the new SOULFLY.

We want to thank all our readers, friends in the industry, and all the amazing artists, big and small, that we get a chance to work with for a great 10th year of existence. As the music industry as a whole continues to take an economic hit, let us all remember: If you like a band or one of their releases, support it!

Here’s hoping for a great 2013!

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SIGH – In Somniphobia

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)

SIGH – Scorn Defeat (reissue)

Before SIGH decided to become an avant-garde and unorthodox extreme metal band, they were an excellent up and coming black metal band from the Far East – a unique band from Asia who drew the interest of MAYHEM’s Euronymous and his label Deathlike Silence Productions. The direction of Scorn Defeat paved the way for SIGH classics such as Infidel Art and Ghastly Funeral Theatre before they ditched the traditional black metal sound.

The first part of the disc is the Scorn Defeat album proper, and epic songs like “A Victory of Dakini,” “Weakness Within,” and “Taste Defeat” still sound as refreshing as they were the first time around. Some VENOM covers and rough tracks from the Requiem for Fools EP and split with KAWIR are also featured on here. The gem of this reissue however, are the Desolation and Tragedies demos, which showcase SIGH in their raw and promising form. Since the demos are rare and almost impossible to find, this is a great addition for SIGH fans of any era.

Scorn Defeat still holds up well in this day and age of digital recording and over-compressed guitars. Unlike 99% of reissues, this one isn’t just repackaged with two live tracks and new liner notes, or a simple remastering of the same songs – this release actually contains listenable substance that matters. This reissue clocks in at 105 minutes, so fans who already own the original won’t feel cheated for picking this one up again. (Deepsend Records)

SIGH – Scenes from Hell

Embarking on the latest “S” album, SIGH has given up the Japanese occult themes from the early albums and instead offers up a three-part orchestration of horror within Scenes from Hell.

The first part of the three-part album is “Prelude to the Oracle”, and the track itself starts off with a riff very similar to the chorus of DEATH’s “Scream Bloody Gore.” Mirai’s traditional black metal vocals and Dr. Mikannibal’s lower growls switch off and balance out Junichi’s simple drum beats. Junichi’s style is basic, and better suited for the likes of the jam-filled A Tribute to Venom EP. “L’art de Mourir” tries to be strange and avant-garde like the songs from Scenario IV: Dread Dreams, but ends up sounding more like a circus soundtrack. Luckily, “The Soul Grave” incorporates more fitting arrangements of the horn sections, and segues into the next part of the album.

The Red Funeral” starts off with a Dani Filth-ish spoken part, then a barrage of simplistic riffs and an overdose of horns dominates the song. “The Summer Funeral” has a slow march feel to it with grandiose solo work by Shinichi, and would indeed be a great funeral march song. “Musica in Tempora Belli” is a straightforward track with a nice classical break in the middle, with some double bass action thrown in the mix to begin the final phase of this chapter.

The last section of this album, “Vanitas,” is the most metal section out of the entire disc, with vibrant melody parts and better structured arrangements. The title track, “Scenes from Hell” ends this soundtrack of horror, and turns out to be the most coherent and solid track on the album, with everything finally coming together at last. It’s a shame that only the last two tracks offer solid song structure without resorting to the overindulgence of brass instruments and orchestration.

Scenes from Hell lacks the avant-garde, weirdness of Imaginary Sonicscape and the eerie epic black metal featured on Infidel Art; instead, this album shines in certain areas, includes some haphazard orchestration, and is just mediocre other times. While the disc is decent, mastermind Mirai needs to make up his mind about how much of his music he wants to be strange and avant-garde, straight up black metal, or a combination of both. (The End Records)

SIGH to Release Scenes from Hell on January 19, 2010

Japanese quintet, SIGH, are excited to announce the release of their eighth studio album, Scenes From Hell, out January 19, 2010 in the U.S, available on CD and LP. International release dates will be announced shortly. Check out a new song, “L’art de Mourir,” via the band’s MySpace page here.

Known for incorporating elements of classical, jazz, black metal, and 60s/70s rock, Scenes From Hell expand upon these genres and influences while encompassing the last forty years of rock. This release also marks the original album debut from Dr. Mikannibal, who was named one of the “Sexiest Women in Metal” by Revolver Magazine, and features guest vocals from David Tibet (CURRENT 93) and Kam Lee. SIGH add a dimension never found in metal; the use of instruments usually reserved for symphony halls. The instrumentation found on Scenes From Hell includes trumpet, trombone, tuba, flute, oboe, clarinet and strings, adding an intense, otherworldly symphonic quality to the music.

SIGH: Vulgar Display of Artistry

Not too many bands define the term, “cult band,” like Japan’s SIGH. Born in April of 1990, the band started off playing traditional black metal and then blossomed into a true musical force with classic cult albums such as Hail Horror Hail and Scenario IV: Dread Dreams. Uncredited by the informed, SIGH were one of the first pioneers who combined multiple genres of music (classical, jazz, rock, blues, psychedelia, doom, etc.) into their off the wall and totally unique metal sound. After paying their dues on several labels, the band found a true home in The End Records and released their over-the-top classical/black metal album, Hangman’s Hymn, as well as a VENOM tribute album. APESHIT spoke to mainman Mirai Kawashima during their recent U.S. tour to give our readers a glimpse into one of underground metal’s most unique bands.
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SIGH Set Release Date for VENOM Tribute Album; North American Tour

Japan’s SIGH will be releasing their limited edition A Tribute to Venom album (cover art) on September 2nd via The End Records.  Limited to one pressing, the album will released in a special collectible packaging (LP w/ etching + CD).  The six-song tribute to legendary black metal band VENOM will feature the bass work of Dan Lilker (BRUTAL TRUTH, NUCLEAR ASSAULT) and Shane Embury (NAPALM DEATH, VENOMOUS CONCEPT).

A Tribute to Venom track listing:
1. “Black Metal
2. “Schizo
3. “Die Hard
4. “Countess Bathory
5. “Teacher’s Pet
6. “Witching Hour

SIGH will also be embarking on their first-ever extended North American headlining tour this September with ZIMMERS HOLE and UNEXPECT.  Here is a list of tour dates:

09/06/08 Sat @ Jumping Turtle – San Marcos, CA
09/07/08 Sun @ Chain Reaction – Anaheim, CA
09/08/08 Mon @ Knitting Factory – Hollywood, CA
09/09/08 Tue @ The Clubhouse – Tempe, AZ
09/10/08 Wed @ Gators – Farmington, NM
09/11/08 Thu @ Lola’s – Ft Worth, TX
09/12/08 Fri @ White Rabbit – San Antonio, TX
09/13/08 Sat @ Meridian – Houston, TX
09/14/08 Sun @ The Muse – Nashville, TN
09/15/08 Mon @ Jaxx – West Springfield, VA
09/16/08 Tue @ B.B. Kings Blues Club – New York City, NY
09/17/08 wed @ FouFounes – Montreal, ON (UNEXPECT not playing this show)
09/18/08 Thu @ Jubilee Centre – Sudbury, ON
09/19/08 Fri @ Wreck Room Toronto – ON
09/20/08 Sat @ Peabody’s DownUnder – Cleveland, OH
09/21/08 Sun @ The Pearl Room – Mokena, IL
09/22/08 Mon @ 4th St Station – St Paul, MN