One of Japans greatest musical exports over the years has come in the way of the outfit known as Sigh which was formed in Tokyo back in 1990. The band roots began in black metal but over the years they have slowly progressed into something even more sinister and experimental by venturing out into the Avant-Garde. Gallows Gallery was originally issued in 2005 on a different label, but the story goes that Mirai Kawashima (vocals, bass, keys and sampling) was not happy with the inferior production quality of the finished product. When 2007 saw the band sign on with The End Records and release a new disc Hangman's Hymn, it also seemed like a good time to revisit Gallows Gallery and clean up some unfinished business. The whole album was given a huge facelift, and not only was James Murphy of Testament and Death fame enlisted to remaster the album, but the cover artwork was changed and bonus tracks were added to further enhance the project.
The music on Gallows Galley is a veritable mind fuck right from the onset and if you're new to the music of Sigh, it will come across as even more of a shock or surprise depending on how you look at it. Its not often you hear a band perfectly combine their prominent metal influences and infuse it with saxophones and Hammond organ, but this is precisely what Sigh do so well here. At times Gallows Gallery comes off as music from a spaghetti western gone terribly awry, and this is a good thing. The band which consists of the aforementioned Kawashima is rounded out here by Shinichi Ishikawa (guitar), Satoshi Fujinami (bass) and Junichi Harashima (drums) and also features a number of special guest musicians from bands such as Dark Tranquility, Firewind and Necrophagia.
The tone is set with the fast and furious trade off lead guitar and Hammond organ solos on the opening track "Pale Monument" as the band tears through the song with a dramatic sense of urgency. Things don't stop there, slowly getting weirder and more out there with each track. The symphonic breakdown in the middle of "Confession To Be Buried" continues directly into the jazzy sounds of the appropriately titled "The Tranquilizer Song", which draws the listener in with it's lush and dreamy arrangement. This song along with the perhaps the albums most ambitious sounding track "MessiahPlan", at just over 7 minutes, wouldn't sound out of place on a Fantomas record or one of Mike Patton's numerous side projects. The album proper runs approximately 45 minutes and ends after this song, after which a brief untitled interlude separates the ending of Gallows Gallery and the beginning of the 7 bonus tracks.
While the bonus tracks don't necessarily add all that much to the original album, a few of the songs are actually worthwhile, particularly a couple of sedated, electronic remixes of "The Tranquilizer Song" courtesy of David Harow and two tasty, albeit short jazzy outtakes to close things out. I would highly recommend this release just for its diverse influences alone, which makes it a very interesting and engaging listen. Whether you're new to Sigh or a hardcore fan, you'll definitely want to pick up Gallows Gallery.
1) Pale Monument
2) In A Drowse
3) The Enlightenment Day
4) Confession To Be Buried
5) The Tranquilizer Song
6) Midnight Son
7) Silver Universe
8) Gavotte Grim
11) The Tranquilizer Song (David Harrow Mix)
12) Pale Monument (Harsh Vocal Mix)
13) In A Drowse (Demo 2003)
14) MessiahPlan (Gunface Alternate Guitar Solo Take)
15) The Tranquilizer Song (David Harrow Remix Outtake)
16) Jazzy Outtake 1
17) Jazzy Outtake 2