Everyone knows what Sigh is, but not everyone can understand what Sigh means. The sonic pictures painted by these wild and wacky maniacs remain some of the most elegantly twisted and perplexing pieces of insanity the world has ever known. Sigh has comfortably transitioned from a black metal squad to an avant-garde caravan, and with "In Somniphobia," the delirium and anxiety continues to sprawl around in its chaotic method of brain-churning psychosis. Right from the start, Sigh explains the foundations of terror within the mind's imagination, told through the eccentric Mirai Kawashima and his army of guests and friends, all just as dark and demented as his abnormal offspring. "In Somniphobia" is brisk, nutty, psychologically twisted, and explosively dynamic as any piece of avant-garde heaved by this stellar tribe of complete and utter madness.
First order of business, Sigh will always be Sigh. Weird and loopy, yet masters at their own craft. Within "In Somniphobia," the songs are expansive and totally individualistic of the overall product; from the ravishing, upbeat pounding of "L'excommunication à Minuit" to the slithering creepfest of a title track, everything is dashingly unique and simultaneously fantastic. Kawashima and his devilish muse Dr. Mikannibal contribute their collection of shrieks, chimes and growls over the shadowy colors of mental decline, both demonstrating stellar vocal performances overall. From "Opening Theme: Lucid Nightmare" onwards, the avant-garde foundation becomes lush with whatever combination of evil nutrients these nutcases water it with. "Amnesia" feels like it belongs in a noir film, with lots of creepy ambience and saxophone play hovering over the dreamy sequence. They stay weird throughout the fiery "Far Beneath the In-Between" and finally ending in a diabolical slew of organs and jazzy riffs within "Equale," a fitting end to an unusual album. We have our fair share of standard heavy slabs ("Purgatorium," "The Transfiguration Fear") following a blueprint not as imaginary and vivid as the rest of the record, but still amazingly addictive regardless.
They just never run out of surprises. Expect it all, anything from orchestral elements to sinister riffing; it's a part of Sigh's manifesto. Kam Lee of Massacre fame and The Meads of Asphodel leader Metatron contribute vocals throughout "Far Beneath the In-Between" for Lee, and "Opening Theme: Lucid Nightmare" and "Amongst the Phantoms of Abandoned Tumbrils" for the masters of the meads, respectively. Interesting contributions by both men here, surprisingly fitting as well; Metatron's vocals especially, which are weird, almost narrative-like pieces of gruff. There's also a degree of accessibility within the avant-garde ceremonies, as the album remains catchy and very special, never running on fumes or depending on the avant-garde influence for illogical additions, but instead using it in a balanced melting pot that is simply excellent. Bath salts might make one gnaw on faces for whatever reason, but tripping on Sigh is like falling into a void full of impossible realities and fictional truths, so gripping yet remarkably memorable.
Many aspects of Sigh are unpredictable, but at least we know they shall always deliver substantial content regardless of theme. Removing the crazy cameos, the saxophone sequences, the colorful keyboards, and the combination of multiple musical territories entwined within Sigh's absurdity, "In Somniphobia" would probably have been titled "Undergoing a Normal Sleep Cycle." The colorful horror of Sigh's imagination makes the macabre slab of avant-garde greatness so unbelievably addictive and fun that it isn't really fair for their counterparts. I've seen colors that have never been witnessed by human eyes, traveled down the blackened corridors of my subconscious, and find sleep to be the worst experience of all. "In Somniphobia" is the nightmare it achieves to be, not just one of Sigh's finest releases.