“In Somniphobia” is the latest installment from veteran Japanese black metallers Sigh – the first metal band that I can think of to incorporate a saxophone player as a permanent band member (who is extremely talented and pretty easy on the eyes).
That having been said, this is not a black metal album. If this is your idea of black metal, go wash off your corpse paint and hang up your spiked armbands – you’re done. Go home and listen to Justin Bieber or something. Stop ruining my favorite genre. This is experimental metal.
So, I’m going to do my best to be impartial to the fact that these guys were one of the pioneering acts in black metal (originally signed by Euronymous himself) and review this album for what it is.
I’m going to be honest – the first time I listened to this album, I didn’t really like it. The second time through, it grew on me a bit. Not to the point that I love it, but to the point that I would add it to my collection and maybe after a few more listens, I could grow to like it… or maybe delete it. I’m really on the fence. I think you have to get used to what Sigh is going for… which is… who knows? This album is all over the place.
If I had to describe this album in three words, I would use the adjectives “bizarre”, “wacky” and “experimental” which are inherently neither positive nor negative – exactly how I feel about this album. They’re Japanese, they have a license to be weird and this album delivers weird by the truckload.
“Purgatorium” – Decent track, starts off with some video game-esque guitar licks, moves into a Gothenburg-style tune.
“The Transfiguration Fear” – An almost power metal track with… clapping and a sax solo? Conga drums? Whistling?! Whatever it is, it’s entertaining. The sax solo is pretty choice.
“Lucid Nightmare” – Spoken word. Japanese guy with a British accent?
“Somniphobia” – Probably my least favorite track on the album. A little too out there for me.
“L’excommunication à Minuit” – A little too disco for me. Seriously.
“Amnesia” – My favorite track off the album. Jazz/metal fusion – and they nail it. It’s weird, but it’s an experimentation that they pull off pretty well. Definitely worth a listen. Kill it at about the 6 minute mark – I think the rest of the track was designed to give the listener a headache.
“Far Beneath the In-Between” – Why do these bands all try to make carnival music? Disposable track.
“Amongst the Phantoms of Abandoned Tumbrils” – What the hell is a tumbril? (tumbril [tuhm-bruhl] noun one of the carts used during the French revolution to convey victims to the guillotine.) Oh, ok. Symphonic metal song, mostly. Also mostly forgettable. Also has an accordion.
“Ending Theme : Continuum” – Instrumental track, total video game music.
“Fall To the Thrall” – The most metal track on the album. Thrashy.
“Equale I) Prelude II) Fugato III) Coda” – A fitting end to this rollercoaster of an album. This track, like the album is all over the place.
The instrumentation is solid, the composition is nuts but the production is good (a sure sign that this isn’t a black metal album!), and it is the furthest thing from a boring listen.
So, all-in-all, if you’re looking for black metal or even metal in any traditional sense of the word, look elsewhere. However, if you’re in the mood for something completely different, give this album a spin. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve never heard anything like it.