2015 surely is a year full of Avantgarde Metal releases: among the main bands we can mention Solefald, Dødheimsgard and Arcturus' comebacks and the new work of the oriental experimenters Sigh. Guess which band will the most Japan-oriented Aristocrat talk about? I can't deny that I've been waiting for the release of this album, even more so after having been disappointed by "World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud" and the preview song from "Arcturian". A year that could have been one of my favorites musically was getting really bad instead, but luckily the Japanese band satisfied my expectations, even exceeding them in some way.
The feature that should generate some interest in every Italian is the fact that "Graveward" has been described as an album inspired by Italian horror movies and their soundtracks, especially the ones created by Fabio Frizzi, which often worked with Lucio Fulci; it's no wonder that some passages remind us of bands like Abysmal Grief, which actually based their music on horror themes. Other important acts dawn on when it comes to the orchestral parts, the onens in "The Tombfiller" reminded me of a macabre version of Rhapsody, while in many circumstances they look towards other countries, like Great Britain for the old Cradle Of Filth which sound really present especially in "The Casketburner". All of this is put onto a raw and aggressive Black/Thrash sound with some Death hints, where solos and headbanging riffs reminds us that the old guitarist has been replaced by You Oshima, already known for his solo project Kadenzza.
At this point we may say that this is a new "Hangman's Hymn", but we all know that expecting two identical albums from Sigh is absolutely wrong. It seems that the original idea was to use really much instruments like minimoog and mellotron; actually, the final result includes many other elements, but the presence of prog-like synths (mentioning Goblin wouldn't be a mistake) is not insignificant and brings us with even more intensity between the Seventies and the Eighties. Another feature which had already been proclaimed thorugh the two preview songs, "Out Of The Grave" and "Kaedit Nos Pestis", is the presence of clean vocals, often used in catchy choruses that could have been part of the soundtrack of some zombie movie; also, the second one of those two tracks reminded me of some Psychobilly bands, but take this statement more as a personal sensation.
For the rest, you will find anything that you can expect from Mirai's creature, that is its unpredictability: Dr. Mikannibal's sax makes some remarkable appearances, like in "Out Of The Grave"; even if the basic sound is simple and straightforward in its core, the band manages to insert passages in unconventional tempos; totally external elements show up unexpectedly, like the Jazz influences in "The Casketburner" or whole songs like the awesome "A Messenger From Tomorrow". A particular note goes to the production: their choices have been criticized in more than one circumstance, maybe someone remembers what they used to say about "Gallows Gallery", or the filthy sound in "Scenes From Hell"; once again, they opted for a quite dirty sound, which increases the old school attitude of the album.
"Graveward" is perfectly definable as a Sigh album, nothing more and nothing less than this; their trademark is unique, even though they get a new identity at each new release. Listening to this work is mandatory for the ones who love the band and absolutely advised to people who is searching for something particular and personal.