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Falling between the grim Scorn Defeat and the even stranger, mania of Hail Horror Hail, Infidel Art sees Sigh heading into a theatrical direction that had not been explored before. Now I’m not familiar with the band’s later works (which I assume are even more avant-garde sounding than their early stuff), but even here you could tell that the band had big plans. The traditional black metal riffing of the debut is still notable, but overall this record features the right amount of balance between black metal grit and experimentation.
Again, I’m not familiar with Sigh’s later outputs, but if you ask me, Infidel Art represents a band that stands out more because of their unique vision than because of their sense of outstanding musicianship. The drums might appear a little flat from time to time and don’t provide that additional rhythmic boost that could make a bit of a difference, whereas the vocals range from unique sassing rasps to some goofy spoken / semi-sung passages – the latter I definitely could do without. Certainly, it’s the blend of piano motives, keyboard riffs and crude riffing that stands out, but obviously none of this would matter if Sigh weren’t great at writing engaging songs. Given its runtime, ”The Last Elegy” could have easily turned into an overlong mishmash of ideas, but instead it expresses itself as a monumental number with a triumphant chorus. The orchestration certainly makes a difference, but make no mistake, Sigh aren’t dependent on it and only use to strengthen their solid metallic foundation.
”The Last Elegy” isn’t the only long track you’ll stumble upon here; except for the shorter deceiving assault of “Suicidogenic”, these compositions are either 8 to 9 minutes long and while that could easily mean trouble for several bands, Sigh know how to keep things cohesive. “Izuna” kicks off with a series of engaged, hum-worthy riffs before a Hellhammer / Celtic Frost-esque break emerges with a vengeance. I also like how Sigh had a few surprises in store that I definitely didn’t expect at all – the aforementioned “Suicidogenic” sounds as if it could serve as a symphonic and tranquil interlude at first, but rapidly shifts gears by the time those stinging riffs get unpacked. Even the cinematic finale of “Beyond Centuries” might seem a little slow-paced compared to the material that came before it, but even here the band suddenly turns berserk during its final minute: it’s that kind of impulsiveness that you wouldn’t expect to come across, but nonetheless embrace with joy.
There’s just one exception where Sigh‘s songwriting skills must have vanished into oblivion. ”Desolation” is quite a mess; each segment feels stretched out beyond its ideal length and its trippy ambiance around the 5 minute mark makes me wonder if the band weren’t on some drugs while writing and recording this. Of course one filler isn’t much to nitpick about, after all the band does more good than harm here and their attempt at taking risks is second to none (“Zombie Terror” sounds like wonderful mix of Celtic Frost and Pink Floyd, for instance). Now listen to Infidel Art and embrace its strange flavors!
Release date: October 1995
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