Sigh - Graveward (Candlelight)

Sigh is back. But is it for the better?

Sigh is a band that really shouldn’t require an introduction at this point. These Japanese maestros have been wowing listeners the world over for 15 years now with their delightfully warped interpretations of black metal, orchestral and a range of other musical styles. 2010’s Scenes from Hell and 2012’s In Somniphobia stand as some of best and most creative records to have come out in this century, and now the band is back yet again with new effort Graveward.

For many who have been eagerly awaiting this record for three years now, your first impression of Graveward might be one of an underwhelming nature. Yes, this is unmistakably a Sigh record; first song off the bat Kaedit Nos Pestis cements this with its mish-mash of styles and madcap carnival singalong chorus, yet there is something amiss. Sigh has always had a penchant for pushing boundaries, not just for music in general, but also for their own creative efforts. Each record the band has released contains a distinctive sense of creative growth, whereas Graveward is the first Sigh record to have a feeling of familiarity to the material. The more distinctly metal influences from Scenes from Hell have returned, and while I enjoy it as much as ever, there is an element of disappointment that the band chose to play it safe this time around.

This isn’t to say Graveward is bad; a Sigh that is slightly resting on their laurels is still more interesting and creative than 90% of bands going. And there is quite a bit to like here. The Tombfiller manages to be one of the most captivating songs I’ve heard this year after all. It’s also good to see the kind of low-fi production they used on Scenes from Hell make a return here, as it gives the material a bit more grit than other bands that use symphonics.

It’s hard to know whether or I should recommend Graveward or not. There’s really nothing about it that makes it a bad album per se, but you could easily pick up an earlier Sigh album and hear something more vibrant. Ultimately, I think Graveward will be consigned to being one of Sigh’s more forgettable, or at least less memorable, releases. And that’s a damn shame.

Graveward is out now.