The Sigh many are used to is one of the most eclectic bands in the business, working with influences from the world’s collective music artistry and somehow piecing it together along side various types of metal. While metal is no stranger to taking other genres under its wing, Sigh rewrites the book the hard ‘n’ heavy gods supposedly set in stone and opens it up to experimentation and, in the process, creates their own musical breed: avant-garde metal. The band was not always like this, however, and began largely as a black metal band, incorporating various influences as the members searched for an identity unlike any other. Sigh’s sixth record, Gallows Gallery, builds upon what Imaginary Sonicscape started--Iron Maiden-esque harmonized guitar riffs, psychedelics, and infectious melodies--but drops the raspy vocals black metal is known for.
Indeed, Gallows Gallery pitches Mirai Kawashima’s scratchy mannerisms in favor of a cleaner, tidier approach to the typical Sigh vocal delivery, but the most extreme change is that of a thin and lifeless production. Though it does nothing to accentuate the brilliant guitar work and causes the drums to sound rather hollow, it doesn’t make the album any less enjoyable and provokes listeners to dig deeper to find the hidden treasures among its cryptic layers. Each spin reveals something new, which is not surprising considering the later chain of Sigh records, and although it does seem relatively complex, it pales in comparison to the recently released In Somniphobia’s inspiration explosion that borrows something from just about every genre.
Aside from the obvious changes, Gallows Gallery is where Sigh continued to push metallic boundaries by introducing saxophones and additional winding keyboard parts, ranging from the Hammond organ to slight symphonic bits. While many will label Gallows Gallery as the band’s least metal record, I wholly disagree because the Sigh was as heavy as they had ever been. But the thin production, as well as the extra catchiness created an illusion of softness. Much of the album is blanketed in a decade warp due to various influences and travels back to the ‘70s when prog rock and organs ruled the roost. Because of this, it remains the group’s most accessible record to date, undeterred by a raw production and makes it the offering newbies should reach for as they begin to explore the band’s discography.
Gallows Gallery has one advantage on its side that other Sigh records don’t--short song lengths that make the album a breeze to sit through and enjoy, rather than dissecting obnoxious durations in an effort to truly understand the music at hand. Nonetheless, the majority of the band’s tracks aren’t intolerable in any way, but sometimes it can be a chore to sit through an LP full of nine-minute tracks. With Gallows Gallery, Sigh has fashioned a rockin’ version out of their traditional stylings and become a better band for it.
Even as Sigh changed signature aspects of their style with Gallows Gallery, they became a band open to further experimentation, testing future waters as they continued to toil away at their patented sound. The album is an attempt at something reaching back to the olden days of rock music, while meshing with elements of the current. 2005’s Gallows Gallery showed a trial and error band as they searched for what fit right under the Sigh moniker (and seriously, what doesn’t?). Recommended.