Sigh - Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien review
|Album:||Hangman's Hymn: Musikalische Exequien|
|Release date:||June 2007|
01. Introitus / Kyrie
02. Inked In Blood
04. Dies Irae / The Master Malice
05. The Memories As A Sinner
06. Death With Dishonor
07. In Devil's Arms
08. Overture / Rex Tremendae / I Saw The World's End
09. Salvation In Flame / Confutatis
10. Finale: Hangman's Hymn / In Paradisum / Das Ende
11. Hangman's Preview [Japanese bonus]
12. Introitus [demo] [Japanese bonus]
13. Inked In Blood [demo] [Japanese bonus]
14. Me-Devil [demo] [Japanese bonus]
Where to start?
"Hangman's Hymn" is probably one of the greatest releases in the genre of Black Metal since Mayhem's "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas". The concept of the album (from what I can tell) is about a criminal or extremely indulgent sinner's last thoughts and memories before the floor drops out from under him with a noose around his neck.
The horrific beauty of this album stems from the almost exceptional song arrangements and the production style. The guitars and bass are almost inaudible but the drums, guitar leads, and orchestra / keyboards are at the forefront of the mix. This unusual approach fits the record perfectly and because you aren't being assaulted by twin guitars it makes you seek them out amidst the heightening claustrophobia. When you can hear the guitars the riffing is insanely catchy and memorable but still maintain a definite feeling of dread about them.
The first thing you will notice when you press play is the vocal delivery. Mirai Kawashima's nasty snarls and banshee shrieks take no prisoners and are surprisingly versatile. I would have to agree with Demonic Tutor's comparison of the vocals to a choir of dead children in his review. There is a constant foreshadowing of melody on every track and as the disk plays on you will recognize riffs and melodies from the other songs not so much being recycled but reinvented, reinforcing the concept by tying the loose ends of the story into slipknots. They seemingly show up at random but are actually brought back in all of the right places. This all leads up to the last song "Finale: Hangman's Hymn / In Paradisum / Das Ende" which, in a matter of minutes, brings the record full circle and the terror to a head by splicing together EVERYTHING you've heard since you decided to embark on this journey to the gallows (how many more references to a hanging can I make before this review ends?). The way they chose to end the record is unexpected but satisfying nonetheless.
44 minutes and 13 seconds in length, the record moves along at a break neck speed (I promise, that's the last one) save for when they slow things down with "Overture / Rex Tremendae / I Saw The World's End". This is not a heavy-as-hell album and will not appeal to some people due to it's over the top demeanor but it still has it's fair share of head banging moments with furious numbers like "Introitus / Kyrie", "Dies Irae / The Master Malice", "The Memories As A Sinner" and "In Devil's Arms". If you appreciate anything similar to the more Symphonic approach towards Black Metal you will love this album in it's entirety. It is a sonic sound scape of all that is horrifying and is blacker than black. Don't you dare touch that skip button once the album starts.
|What defines Black Metal? What defines music as being avant-garde? Hell, I cannot pinpoint one specific musical trait that would answer those questions. On the other hand, I could play you the latest album from Sigh. That should take care of those annoying questions. Some say Sigh is not Black Metal anymore, in the form, they are right. But the intent, the root of their psycho music is the essence of Black Metal. I am talking about fear. Hangman's Hymn is downright scary.
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