Sigh are a band that require no introduction. They have been playing their take on extreme metal for over 20 years now. They have recently released a new album, “In Somniphobia” through Candlelight Records.
I saw them live at the Brutal Assault Festival in Jaromer, Czech Republic in August 2010 and managed to meet Marai and Mikannibal.
Thanks to Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija for taking the photo.
Heres my interview with Marai in 2007 after the release of “Hangman’s hymn”
Hails!! How are things in Japan?
Marai: Nothing special. I’m bored and frustrated as hell as usual. Now we’re going through the rainy season, which is annoying enough!!
You describe your latest album as “thrash-metal-meets-German-symphonies! Fast, heavy, bombastic and majestic!” Could you tell us more about it?
Marai: Our musical influence got wider and wider and on Imaginary Sonicscape and Gallows Gallery, it hit the peak. Those albums had everything from metal, classical music, jazz, 60s rock, traditional ethnic music and so on.
However, this time we decided to exclude all those non-metal stuff and concentrate on heavy/thrash metal and classical music in order to make the Hangman’s Hymn world clear. Definitely this is the most consisntent album we have made, but don’t get me wrong, this is not a simplistic album at all. Or rather, I can say this is the most complicated album by Sigh.
I would not call it a concept album as it does not have any strong storyline or anything behind the lyrics, but still there are strong connections between each song both musically and lyrically. The message behind the album is very simple and clear.
I hate weak people who have to cling to the fairytales like religion. I hate greedy people who have nothing in their head but making money.
I hate 99% of people on this earth and I just want all of them to die in pain and burn in hell. I’m not pretending a misanthrope, but I do mean it!!
There are four main images described on the album, namely Heaven, Hell, Earth and Funeral. They are also depicted on the artwork of the inner sleeve.
As you see, the album is divided into three acts. Act 1 is about Earth = human greed.
Act 3 is about Hell = buring world. Heaven is described at the end of the Act 3 as In Pardisum, but it was interrupted by diminished chord very quickly, which means there’s no salvation. Funeral image is inserted in between as Requim parts sung in Latin. They all are described very vaguely as an expression of my hate and anger towards this stupid society.
Also it’s very important to enjoy this album more to know that there are lots of melodies that have meanings. The most prominent one must be the Hangman’s Hymn theme, which is the melody for the chorus of Hangman’s Hymn played by trumpets and choirs.
This melody appears in many different places on the album. Some are very prominent while others are subliminal. For example, the chorus of In Devil’s Arms actually is the Hangman’s Hymn theme.
Tell us more about “Hangman’s hymn” with regards to recording and production.
Marai: We used the same studio where “Gallows Gallery” was recorded called Stupid Moopies. As it was the second time to work with their studio engineer, things went really smooth this time. Also I used my own home studio to record all of my vocals and synthsizer parts. It was really good to record all the vocals at my studio as I didn’t have to care about the budget or time. Definitely we’ll keep this recording style for the future releases.
Rob Urbinati of Sacrifice appears on the track “The Master Malice”. How did that come about? Are you and the other guys in Sigh fans of Sacrifice?
Marai: Yes, we’ve been huge fans of Sacrifice for more than 20 years. Shinichi and I even went to Toronto to see their reunion show last year and met Rob there. We asked him if he’d be interested in doing a solo on our album and he was kind enough to accept the offer. Definitely the reunion show was one of the best metal shows I have ever seen. It was a real thrash metal gig.
Are you satisfied with how the album has turned out?
Marai: Yes, it turned out to be really satisfying. Usually there are some gaps between the ideal and the actual recorded stuff, but this time the album turned out to be almost exactly I wanted! Especially it was really good that I kept recording the vocals until I was 100% satisfied with the result.
I like all the songs and I like the result of the mixing. I like the mastering too. Definitely this is something we intended.
For someone who has not heard Sigh before, what album/albums would you recommend for them to listen to?
Marai: Of course Hangman’s Hymn!
You have been on the roster of many labels (Century Media, Cacophonous Records etc.) in the past. How is it being signed to The End Records? How did you become part of their roster?
Marai: Well, I must admit that we’re really bad at business and had lots of bad luck with the labels. First we were on Deathlike Silence Productions but Euronymous got killed before the album was out.
Then we signed to Craphonous, who was probably one of the worst labels in the world. They used to have Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Primordial, Bal-Sagoth etc. but ALL of them left the label. What if they had treated those bands properly???
They still claim the right to our albums, that’s why those albums can’t be re-released. Then Century Media, they were very professinal at what they were doing. I have no words on Baphomet.
As we’re no good at business, I asked the guy at Century Media who was in charge of us for some help, and he introduced us The End Records. Definitely they are the best label we have worked with. They respect their artists and also they’re very seirous about their business.
What albums are you currently banging your head to?
Marai: I still listen to lots of 80s metal and punk from the 70s/80s such as Sacrifice, Celtic Frost, Venom, Deathrow, Warfare, At War, Repulsion, Death, Kreator, Agent Steel, DRI, COC, Beyond Possession, Septic Death, GBH, Discharge, Amebix, Antisect, Crass, Sham 69, Stiff Little Fingers and so on. I don’t know very much about today’s bands, but I enjoy some of them like Municipal Waste, Blood Tsunami, Bludwulf, SSS, Merciless Death and so on.
How did you get into metal? What was the first metal band you heard? Which was the first metal gig you attended?
Marai: In the 80s when I was a teenager, heavy metal belonged to the mainstream here in Japan too, so it was nothing unusual to listen to the artists like Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden, and I had several classmates with the similar taste. But I was the only one to keep searching for something faster and harder. I was totally blown away by a Slayer cassette tape which one of the classmates gave me, then I kept digging thrash metal and hardcore stuff.
I don’t remember what the first metal band I heard was, probably Iron Maiden or MSG. The first metal gig I attended was Metallica. It was Master of Puppets tour just after Cliff got killed.
What is the main inspiration behind your music?
Marai: All the music I listen to more or less could be the inspiration. Also if you open your mind, everything could be the inspiration such as movies, books, TV shows, newspaper, daily life etc.
Tell us a bit about the metal scene in Japan. What are your favourite bands from Japan?Could you recommend some bands from Japan that we should check out?
Marai: Well, I guess the scene is the same everywhere, I mean a few really good bands and lots of crap. My personal faves are such as Abigail, Sabbat, Barbatos, Defiled, and Gallhammer. Those bands are worth checking out.
Are you aware of bands and the music scene from the Arabian Gulf?
Marai: Yes, I know there’s a scene and heard of some bands, but unfortunately I’ve never heard their music yet.
Are there any plans for gigs, tours in the coming months?
Marai: We’ll play a few gigs here in Japan, but other than that, no gigs outside of Japan are being planned at the moment unfortunately.
Thank you for answering all my questions and also for your time. Doyou have any final words or comments?
Marai: Thank you very much for the interview!