Sigh - Ghastly Funeral Theatre
Cacophonous Records
Progressive Black Metal
6 songs (23:31)
Release year: 1997
Sigh, Cacophonous Records
Reviewed by Crash
Archive review

I’ve been on a Japanese metal kick lately. Let’s talk about Sigh. Sigh are simply put one of my favorite bands. I was introduced to them on this very website. I saw a review for Hangman’s Hymn and I took a listen for myself. I was floored with how the music had the over the top and bombastic nature of symphonic metal but without losing any of the rawness or intensity. I quickly wanted more and bought a copy of Gallows Gallery. This is when I found out that Sigh were weirder than I thought. That album had more to do with power metal than anything else and was apparently a huge surprise for their fans and their label who hated it.

Since Sigh were already one of my favorites, I vowed never to download their early material. I later bought Imaginary Sonicscape which still stands as the most Avant of their canon. One day I was looking through the less than exciting metal section at my local record store and my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw a used copy of Ghastly Funeral Theatre. This is an EP released in between the band’s second and third releases Infidel Art and Hail Horror Hail (Which fills the “G” in for the band’s habit of spelling out their name with their album titles). While it is a short disc, Ghastly Funeral Theatre easily stands up against the bands longer and equally adventurous releases.

The disc starts with the creepy and ominous Intro: Soushiki before being sent into the mystical sounds of Shingontachikawa. What makes me love Sigh is how they play with unusual sounds while never sacrificing the songwriting. The experimentation is kept to the extent it should while the songwriting is deceptively complex. It is a midpaced rocker that is a special blend of their influences. The dramatic whimsy of The Beatles are in the orchestration while the black metal is evident in the atmosphere and vocals which are supplied by chief songwriter Mirai. His delivery is very unlike his other black metal contemporaries. Rather than providing the usual scream, he chants and comes across as a demented storyteller sitting around a campfire. There is not a more obvious moment on this album than in Doman Seman which literally does sound like a campfire song from Hell.

It drones in louder and louder until it morphs into a huge multilayered orgasm of sounds. I have always felt like Mirai would almost be better suited to composing for an orchestra than metal, but he still lets this influence shine just as much if not more than any metal influence. This all adds up to a great finish for a great song.

Midway through the album, we take a breather with Imiuta. This is a gorgeous piano and synth piece that gives Mirai an opportunity to fully use his unorthodox piano playing. His style is rough and hardhitting like a Jon Bonham on keyboards. But this just echoes of his personality.

The third and final “real song” is Shikigami which is easily the most normal song here. Sigh take a gallop not unlike The Trooper or Children of the Grave. And what better way to take advantage of that then by twin guitar solos? Awesome. Finishing off the song is a great passionate chorus .

Behold the awesome.

”Throw a paper bird to the south and it will fly true

For when the paper bird comes, it’s the end of you

You will die in agonizing pain

Vermin will feed on your cold remains”

Fuck yeah.

And to end this storybook of an album is Outro: Higeki, a beautiful fading piano melody. And such is Ghastly Funeral Theater. This odd little album fits with me in a way that few albums can. Something about the short length, the Japanese scary story atmosphere, and the simple and elegant production that actually GASP sounds like it’s being played by an actual human. You can find a similar feeling in Dream Theater’s A Change of Seasons, Rhapsody’s Rain of A Thousand Flames, or Radiohead’s new Record Store Day single (Which you should listen to, mini review).

Headbangers beware, this is not what to listen to for heaviness or wicked eight string sweep trembolos and arpeggios. This is what to listen to with some incense, a smoke, and a book with some coffee. Unfortunately, admitting to that in public is like walking into a hipster nightmare. This is genuinely artsy fartsy metal and Sigh do it just how I like it. But that being said, it comes with tons of likable songs and a likable journey.

Do it.

Killing Songs :
Front to back and start to finish
Crash quoted no quote
Other albums by Sigh that we have reviewed:
Sigh - Graveward reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sigh - In Somniphobia reviewed by Goat and quoted 93 / 100
Sigh - Scenes From Hell reviewed by James and quoted 82 / 100
Sigh - Infidel Art reviewed by James and quoted 90 / 100
Sigh - Scorn Defeat reviewed by James and quoted 98 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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