Sigh - Scorn Defeat
Deathlike Silence Productions
Black Metal
7 songs (43:11)
Release year: 1993
Reviewed by James
Archive review

If you ever wanted a testament to the power of metal to cross borders, look no further than Sigh. Despite hailing from a country with barely any extreme metal scene, and despite living thousands of miles away from any players in the nascent black metal movement, Sigh still struck up a correspondence with Mayhem guitarist and black metal figurehead Euronymous. Indeed, the band impressed him so much that Sigh were signed to his prestigious Deathlike Silence label, cementing their place in black metal history and placing them alongside such company as Burzum and Enslaved. And Scorn Defeat certainly holds its own against any of those early releases, being utterly unique in the black metal canon. Unlike their friends in the north, Sigh were a truly old-school proposition, funneling classic Bathory and Celtic Frost through a somewhat leftfield filter, that makes it seem all the nastier in the end.

Maybe it's the band's remote location, or their much publicized use of psychedelics, but Scorn Defeat is perhaps the most unusual of all the early black metal releases. Although the music, at face value, is no more bizarre than anything else released at the time, Sigh seem to have imbued Scorn Defeat with an odd, dreamlike quality. Perhaps it's the weird, echo-y production, or the way the keyboards seem randomly slotted into the music, but what Sigh have done is subtly tweak fairly conventional extreme metal just enough to make it seem strange and nightmarish. Scorn Defeat is an album loaded with evil atmosphere, and much like any good horror film, it gives the listener a sense that something is very very wrong here. Things reach somewhat of a crescendo on Gundali, where the band drop the metal entirely for a frenzied invocation over ritual drumming and gothic keys. When suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, the music jumps to a virtuoso display of classical piano (played by frontman Mirai Kwashima). The best way to describe Sigh's music is probably in the band's own words, who used the metaphor of a film to describe the way their music shifts jarringly. Every now and then, it'll abruptly cut to a different scene.

By rights, Scorn Defeat shouldn't work. It's shoddily recorded, appallingly played (guitarist Shinichi's solos are basically atonal flailings that sound completely out of place, and the drums sound like they were played by a 5-year-old much of the time) and most of the music doesn't make any damn sense. Yet perhaps it's for those reasons, the sheer wrongness of the album, that it triumphs. Each riff is a lumbering, tormented beast that drags itself towards you like something out of Silent Hill. And even though there are moments of great beauty in Mirai's piano playing, even those are tainted with the creeping sense of unease that permeates the album (just check the gorgeous outro of Ready For The Final War, that ends abruptly in harsh, slamming, dissonant chords). And even though the band have only grown stranger over time, they've never again captured the uniquely disturbing quality that enabled them to craft this work of evil genius.

Killing Songs :
James quoted 98 / 100
Other albums by Sigh that we have reviewed:
Sigh - Heir to Despair reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Sigh - Graveward reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sigh - In Somniphobia reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Sigh - Ghastly Funeral Theatre reviewed by Crash and quoted no quote
Sigh - Scenes From Hell reviewed by James and quoted 82 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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