is regarded by many as Japan's leading extreme metal
export, having released several high quality recordings throughout their
seventeen year existence.
In May of 1990
three musicians attending the same college formed a band called Sigh. The
lineup consisted of Mirai Kawashima on bass, vocals, and keyboards,
Satoshi Fujinami on guitar, and Kazuki Ozeki on percussion. The name Sigh
felt appropriate, as a sigh can express a variety of emotions. Gathering
influences from a variety of sources mainly rooted in 1980s thrash and
first wave black metal, Sigh quickly shunned their earlier roots as a
cover band and began to put together material for a demo to be released a
month later. Desolation showed the band at its earliest, comprising
of three songs that would be rerecorded later on.
Kazuki left Sigh after the completion of Desolation.
His tastes differed slightly than Mirai and Satoshi, favoring bands
like Blind Guardian and Paradise Lost over the rising trend of death
metal. This affected his ability to play, and once he realized he could
not provide the level of intensity the other members required, he
willingly left the group. There were no hard feelings regarding his
departure either way. To this day, Kazuki's greatest contribution to Sigh
is the band's logo, which he drew.
Mirai and Satoshi worked together as a pair from then
on, with the occasional guest or two assisting the band for live
performances. In December of 1990 the band issued their second demo;
Tragedies. The demo marked a greater point of success for the band,
with all three songs (The rerecorded version of "Weakness Within" was
included in the Wild Rags re-release of the demo in 1991) from the first
demo rerecorded in addition to two new songs. The demo was well received,
but still marked a primitive point for the band.
The Requiem for Fools EP was released in 1992 and
was the first recording that the band was satisfied with. Still working
together as a two piece, Sigh managed to gain the attention of Euronymous
with this EP. The EP was originally sent to Dead, but wound up in the
hands of Euronymous due to his suicide. Being the central figure in the
Norwegian Black Metal scene and mastermind behind Mayhem, the credibility
of Euronymous behind Sigh meant great things were in store for the band.
Mirai began trading tapes and exchanging letters with several members of
the Norwegian scene, including Samoth, Faust, and Count Grishnackh, among
others. This contact provided a vital influence in how Sigh presented
themselves visually, who would soon dawn corpsepaint for all photos and
In the summer of 1992, auditions for a new guitarist
were held. Out of those who tried out, Shinichi Ishikawa was
chosen. The fact that he mentioned Venom as an influence proved rare in a
land where extreme metal was still in its earliest stages. Satoshi focused
his attention on the drums from this point to accommodate the change.
The band was soon ready to record a full-length album
and Euronymous was interested in having it released on his
record label, Deathlike Silence Productions. The debut album, Scorn
Defeat, was recorded in March of 1993 with eight songs of early thrash
and black metal influences. Euronymous was never able to release the album
on his label in time, due to his murder in August that same year. Instead,
the album was released on Voices of Wonder, which took over Deathlike
Silence Productions after the death of Euronymous. The album was instantly
a cult classic in the black metal world, which would influence the
symphonic aspects of bands like Emperor and Cradle of Filth. A song from
the album; "Ready for the Final War," was later chosen to represent the
band on the UK black metal compilation CD Blackened.
Sigh recorded an early cut of "The Zombie Terror" in
January of 1994 for a compilation album featuring many artists
of the Japanese metal underground called Far East Gate In Inferno.
The compilation was being put together by the band Sabbat, one of the most
influential and earliest black metal bands in Asia.
In April the same year two more songs were recorded for
a split seven inch EP with the Greek band Kawir. The EP was released
through a new UK based label called Cacophonous Records.
A small German record label called Voices from the Dark
Side Productions released a Sigh tribute to Venom cassette in October of
1994 called To Hell and Back. All tracks were taken from
Sigh entered the studio from February to June in 1995 to
record Infidel Art, their second album. Three of the album's six
tracks were new renditions of older material. Musically, the album relies
more on the use of synthesizers than previous recordings, with several
keyboard tracks playing simultaneously. The early thrash and black metal
influences maintain their presence. Infidel Art was released a few
months later through Cacophonous Records, who inked a four album deal with
from Sigh's early live performances were gathered and compiled for a live
CD entitled The Eastern Force of Evil: Live '92-'96. The CD
features live Venom and Death covers in addition to songs from the first
two albums. An early version of "Shikigami" from the upcoming release,
Ghastly Funeral Theatre, was also included.
For their next recording, Sigh originally intended to
release a split album with the fellow Japanese black metal group, Abigail,
however Abigail's record label at that time, Modern Invasion, objected to
this idea. The idea was then to release a split with the Swedish band,
Vergelmar, however this also fell through. Tired of struggling to
negotiate deals with bands on other labels, Ghastly Funeral Theatre
was released alone as a mini-CD in 1997. The entire CD is dedicated to
different aspects of Japanese occultism which Sigh had briefly addressed
on the first two albums. The music on the CD is much more straightforward
and shorter in comparison to the material on Infidel Art.
At the same time that Ghastly Funeral Theatre was
being recorded, Sigh was also busy preparing material for the third album.
An unreleased EP entitled Shadowking was recorded during this time,
with the title track being an experiment with MIDI technology. Two of the
three songs from these sessions were officially released on the Roots
compilations, with the third being a bonus on the Psychic Scream
re-release of Scorn Defeat.
Hail Horror Hail blew minds apart upon its
release later in 1997. Being Sigh's third full-length, it definitely
the band had gone through a major progression while still retaining their
roots. The album is completely structured around the premise of being a
horror film without the pictures, leaving it to the imagination to define
what is really taking place. Due to its unconventional sound and methods
of experimentation, a warning label printed on the case explaining the
nature of the CD to unsuspecting buyers. The band dropped their
corpsepaint for the album, having grown tired of all the unoriginal clones
that had risen. To this day, many refer to Hail Horror Hail as
Sigh's masterpiece, which was supported by praises from medias like
Terrorizer and Kerrang.
Sigh's deal with Cacophonous Records was beginning to
present itself as an issue to the band, who was not
satisfied with their performance. The label had hardly managed to promote
any of the band's releases, including Hail Horror Hail, and failed
to keep their promise with having the past albums released on vinyl. The
fact that the label contributed no funding for touring and had bad
distribution also pushed the band to its decision to seek another label.
Sigh made contact with Century Media Records, who expressed interest,
however Cacophonous intervened and threatened legal action until the four
album contract had been fulfilled.
The band traveled to the United States to play a few
east coast shows as well as a few dates in Great Britain and Ireland,
before going to work on the fourth full-length release.
IV: Dread Dreams forged a different path than the previous album while
still retaining an experimental quality. Following the concept of dreams,
the album takes many unpredictable, questionably random turns , in order
to stay true to that concept. The album was the first of Sigh's to feature
a number of guest contributions, with many lyrics coming from members of
other bands. The album was released in 1999 with no promotion from
Cacophonous. The band also has its doubts as to whether or not the label
even paid to have the album mastered.
Before 1999 was over Mirai and
Shinichi got together with Yasuyuki and Youhei from Abigail and formed Cut
Throat. The focus of the group was to make classic thrash covers with the
occasional original composition every now and then. While existing solely
for the entertainment of its members, Cut Throat still recorded and
released the Rape Rape Rape album on the Root of all Evil label
that same year.
Once Sigh's deal with Cacophonous Records was completed,
immediately left the label to pursue a better deal. Eventually, the band
signed with Century Media, who promised the band the treatment they had
been deprived for many years. Work on the 5th full-length album commenced,
with the band going into the studio in September of 2000. The album,
entitled Imaginary Sonicscape, was the band's most ambitious album
thus far, combining classic psychedelic elements with the metal always
present in their roots. The album took many months to perfect under the
direction of Yukito Okazaki from the stoner metal band Eternal Elysium.
Finally, the album saw release in July of 2001. The album received a great
deal of praise from a variety of sources upon its release.
Mirai participated in a side project with Killjoy of
Necrophagia called Enoch. A full-length entitled Graveyard
Disturbances saw release in 2001; the music illustrating the two
member's love for vintage horror film soundtracks. Some of the album's
tracks were rearranged versions of songs written by Mirai as early as 1995
for an unreleased project called Funeral Theatre.
Sigh was also supposed to record a cover of John
Coltrane's "Spiritual" for a tribute album scheduled for release in 2002,
although the details surrounding this release are still unknown. Also, the
makers of the online video game Adellion hired Mirai to score around forty
original compositions for the game.
Century Media helped fund Sigh's first proper United
States tour in April and May of 2002. Yasuyuki toured with the band,
covering bass duties so that Mirai could focus on the keyboards. Khanate
and Thrones were also on the same tour.
Before the tour was even over Mirai had already revealed
that the writing process for the sixth full-length had begun. The album,
entitled Gavotte Grim was estimated to be released in 2003.
In June of 2002 Necrophagia announced that Mirai had
joined as their permanent keyboardist, which he had been keeping a secret
for the last few months. He wrote a few songs for their EP Goblins be
Thine and toured with the band.
A split seven inch EP with Necrophagia and Sigh was
released in 2003, featuring Sigh's cover of Necrophagia's "Yong Burial."
Another seven inch split EP entitled Evilized Japan was released
later in 2004 with Abigail, with Sigh's side comprising
of two live Venom covers. Sigh contributed a cover of Hawkwind's
"Psychedelic Warlords" for a tribute CD.
that the direction of the next Sigh full-length would require more in the
drum field, Junichi Harashima was recruited, with Satoshi moving to bass.
The name of the album was changed from Gavotte Grim to Gallows
Gallery, and was recorded in 2004. In sound, the album was unlike
anything Sigh had ever released, with Mirai's black metal rasps being
discarded in favor of clear vocals. The album pays homage to 1980s heavy
metal, more than anything else, while also still including a great deal of
keyboards and synthesizers.
Because Century Media was disappointed that the band had
not gone in a more black metal direction with the album, the band was
forced to find another label to distribute Gallows Gallery. To hide
this story, the band engineered a different reason as to why Century Media
would not release the album: their use of sonic weapon techniques on the
album. A warning was issued about the new album,
saying it could do harm to one's health due to the implementation of
such techniques. Mirai was apparently hospitalized while working on
the album, which was one of the reasons it took the album so long to
be released. This elaborate, but fictitious plot helped conceal the
fact that the album was also cheaply mastered.
After several delays, the album was finally released in
September of 2005 on both Candlelight and Baphomet records. The album was
received well by the majority, with Terrorizer Magazine awarding it the
14th best album of 2005.
That same year Mirai was involved in new releases from
the Meads of Asphodel, Necrophagia, Hidden, Hallowmass, and Cut Throat.
Abigail put together a seven inch EP tribute to Sigh which featured Mirai
Before the year was over, Mirai announced that he had
formed a creative collaboration with Shane Embury of Napalm Death for a
second album under the name Blood from the Soul. Due to the busy schedules
of both members, there hasn't been much progress made on this project yet.
Work on a second Enoch album entitled Solamente Nero
had already begun, and while Mirai's parts were completed, the album
was not released due to future problems with Killjoy that ended Mirai's
partnership with Killjoy and Necrophagia.
A new Cut Throat seven inch EP entitled Branded then
Whipped was released in January of 2006. The writing and recording process
for Sigh's seventh full-length album named Hangman's Hymn also
began during this time.
Sigh then proceeded to shock fans when it was announced
that the band had been signed to the United States progressive label, The
End Records, which houses renowned acts Agalloch, Dissection, Green
Carnation, and Voivod, just to name a few. Fans were also blown away when
the announcement that Hangman's Hymn would be released on The End
Records by the end of 2006 (But was delayed many times until a June 2007
date was secured).
Hangman's Hymn is a ten track assault of
orchestrated violence, deriving heavy influence from German classical
Romantic composers such as Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, and Richard
Wagner. It is divided into three acts, and marks the return of Mirai's
harsh vocals after their absence on Gallows Gallery. The album
cleverly introduces reoccurring themes which, as the album progresses,
build up into one of the most climactic finales ever heard in Sigh
history. Sigh went into the studio in August 2006 to record the album. It
was released on June 12 on The End Records and May 23 on Soundholic
Records in Japan (With bonus tracks).
2007 began as strong as ever for the band, who played
their first show in over five years on March 17th at Shin-Okubo Hotspot in
Tokyo. Mikannibal joined the band on stage for the first time on the alto
sax and backing vocals.
Later it was announced that she would become the next
official member of the band.
a month later, on April 8th, the band played at Norway's Inferno Festival.
The band's performance at Inferno was eagerly anticipated and the band
exceeded expectations with a set list that covered a lot of the band's
A United States summer tour scheduled for June and July
was abruptly cancelled due to financial issues on behalf of the End
Records. The band was still scheduled to play their first ever two shows
with Mayhem, however these two shows were cancelled when Hellhammer
received an injury that prevented him from playing.
At this point in time, Sigh appears in definitive shape.
With the recently released Hangman's Hymn garnering critical praise
from music medias along with continuous possibilities of tours,
merchandise, re-releases, and more seem endless. For seventeen years Sigh
has represented Japan as one of their leading metal bands to emerge
worldwide; gaining success and acclaim. They have opened the door for many
other bands to follow, further expanding the quality of the far eastern
scene. Sigh is a band who is not afraid to frequently experiment with
change, traveling into a realm never before attempted. They are a band who
deserve every piece of recognition that they earn, and after their history
of releases... they have earned the attention of countless metal fans
There were surely be more to write here as time passes
Last update: August 9, 2007
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ORIGINAL BIO