Sigh – Heir to Despair (Candlelight/Spinefarm)

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These guys have been around since the late 80s, and I’m pretty sure they were the first Japanese Black Metal band. 30 years on and the band have evolved into more of an Avant-Garde/Progressive/Extreme Metal band with elements of traditional Japanese/Far Eastern melodies banging heads with Jethro Tull-ish flute excursions  John Zorn like experimental Jazz and Scandinavian style Symphonic Black Metal. It’s a real mixed bag of styles which works incredibly well (if your tastes are eclectic enough to absorb the almost Mr. Bungle-like genre jumping going on across these 9 tracks). Opening track ‘Alethia’ with its Eastern scales and Electronic vocal effects lulls you into a false sense of security before the band return to their heavier roots on ‘Homo Homini Lupus’ (replete with guest vocals by one  Philip H. Anselmo).  It’s pretty much psychotic heaviness all the way except for a reprisal of the bands electronica elements on the ‘Heresy Trilogy’ which wouldn’t sound out of place on an album by The Bug. Intriguing, ingenious and thought provoking. Ian Pickens

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