Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sigh - Scorn Defeat (Deluxe Edition)

Scorn Defeat (Deluxe Edition)
Deepsend Records

One of the strangest and more unpredictable bands to emerge from the east would have to be Tokyo (Japan) based outfit Sigh. For near on two decades, and over the course of eight full-length efforts, Sigh have continually redefined their sound and direction with every new release, which has both confused and earned praise from fans and critics alike for the avant-garde extreme metal act.
In the build up towards the release of Sigh’s upcoming ninth release later in the year (‘In Somniphobia’), Deepsend Records have decided to put together a deluxe edition reissue of the band’s debut full-length effort ‘Scorn Defeat’.
Taking up the first seven tracks on the first disc of this deluxe reissue is the band’s debut full-length effort ‘Scorn Defeat’. Although there’s no mention of a remaster, ‘Scorn Defeat’ still holds up remarkably well to today’s standards, despite having been released as far back as 1993 (On Mayhem guitarist Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth’s underground label Deathlike Silence Productions). Although Sigh would quickly move on from the black metal sound that made up most of their debut, it was clear right from the start that the band (Who at the time comprised of vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Mirai Kawashima, guitarist Shinichi Ishikawa and drummer Satoshi Fujinami) were anything but a straight forward act, with their take on black metal anything but traditional in terms of what the Europeans were producing at the same time.
Whether it be the doom-like undertones of the morbid opening track ‘A Victory Of Dakini’, the bizarre keyboard introduction to the thrash based ‘The Knell’, the eclectic hybrid of sounds within the experimental ‘At My Funeral’, the predominately instrumental piece ‘Gundali’ (Which despite the absence of guitar, is one of the album’s genuine highlights), the lengthy and progressive influenced ‘Ready For The Final War’, the sonic blackened blast of ‘Weakness Within’ or the slow and menacing vibe within ‘Taste Defeat’, ‘Scorn Defeat’ is a varied and forward thinking black metal release, and worthy of its underground cult classic status.
Closing out the first disc are the three tracks (‘The Knell’, ‘Desolation’ and ‘Taste Defeat’) that made up the band’s ‘Requiem For Fools’ E.P. from 1992 (Which led to the band’s signing with Deathlike Silence Productions), and the two tracks that appeared on the band’s split E.P. release with Greek black metal band Kawir from 1994 (‘Suicidogenic’ and the cover of Venom’s ‘Schizo’). As you would expect, the sound is a lot rawer than anything heard on their debut album. But while the sound isn’t anywhere near as polished as anything on ‘Scorn Defeat’, it does present listeners with another side to Sigh’s multifaceted sound, albeit in an aggressive and angry form (Especially ‘Schizo’, which is an obvious highlight).
While the first disc is a worthy purchase alone, it’s actually the second disc that will really appeal to Sigh devotees, with the disc getting off to a ripping start with two enthusiastic Venom covers (‘Black Metal’ and ‘The Seven Gates Of Hell’, both of which appeared on the band’s Sigh’s official bootleg tribute ‘To Hell And Back’ from 1995), followed by an equally worthy cover of Mayhem’s ‘Carnage’ (Which has only appeared on the vinyl re-release of ‘Scorn Defeat’).
‘The Zombie Terror’ (From the obscure Evil Records ‘Far East Gate In Inferno’ compilation from 1994) is an interesting inclusion here as it highlights the more avant-garde side of the band’s song writing.
But the real prize here is the addition of the band’s highly sought after (And damn near impossible to find!) ‘Desolation’ demo from 1990 (‘Weakness Within’, ‘Desolation Of My Mind’ and ‘Mentally Numb’) and their ‘Tragedies’ demo from 1991 (‘Death Throes’, ‘Sigh’, ‘Mentally Numb’ and ‘Desolation’). While the recordings are rough and raw at best (And at worst, kind of un-listenable!), they do provide an insightful look into how the band started out, and ultimately progressed to the point where they released ‘Scorn Defeat’. Hardly essential, but definitely interesting.
Overall, Deepsend Records have managed to put together the ultimate deluxe re-release of Sigh’s ‘Scorn Defeat’, with everything from the track listing right through to the packaging presented in the way a genuine deluxe edition should be put together.
In summary, if you have an interest in Sigh’s early days, or avant-garde black metal, this is one release that should be on your list of essential purchases.

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© Justin Donnelly