Sigh is a band I’ve had a history of not really getting into. While they’re undoubtedly an essential band in the black metal cannon, and one notable, like Master’s Hammer, for being a respected band from the early scene that wasn’t from Scandinavia, their music always felt full of a feeling of “not quite” on my end.

I could tell they were talented and had a strong vision, but there was something missing in their music that kept me from actively enjoying it. With the band releasing their 11th album, Heir to Despair, on November 16 through Candlelight/Spinefarm, I decided to give the band another shot, and I’m glad I did.

Heir to Despair is an album built around the idea of madness, and borrows plenty of cues from progressive and psychedelic music, to phenomenal effect. Right from the opening track, “Aletheia,” I was pulled into a blackened, psychedelic tune packed with an almost trance-like chanting tune bolstered by the flute line as it accents punchy syncopated rhythms.

There’s a staggering amount of variety on the album, but the uniting motif holds things together quite well, and the group has developed an incredible amount in terms of their command of texture and composition.  Every track stands out in some way, though my favorites are “Aletheia,” “Homo Homini Lupus,” and the “Heresy Trilogy” that takes up three tracks in the middle of the album.

Heir to Despair marks a new chapter and a new sound for Sigh, so I predict that diehard fans will either absolutely love this record or decry it as a betrayal, but for me this album has been extremely hard to put down. I’m sitting on a pile of promos that I need to either review or decide if I’m going to review, but I keep coming back to this record right here, and every time I discover something I overlooked. For what it’s worth, Sigh have earned themselves at least one new fan from this upcoming release, and I’m actively looking forward to where they go from here.

Purchase the album here. 


Ben Serna-Grey is a musician and writer from the Pacific Northwest. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Apex Magazine, Bending Genres, Broadswords and Blasters, Two Cities Review, and others. He has sheet music published through Subito Music Publishing and also puts out experimental electronic/noise music as Mother Anxiety. He is also a contributor for Toilet Ov Hell and occasionally reviews short fiction on SFF Reviews.

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