In the anime film Paprika, a man’s dreams are invaded by a parade of moving inanimate objects, toys, and cartoon characters. This stampede of nonsense causes him to jump out of a window. The concept isn’t entirely new—H.P. Lovecraft always had people defenestrate themselves rather than facing the horrors of their minds—but it’s rare that a piece of art so accurately illustrates the frantic terror of dreams, the mental horror that would make one leap into an actual void. Such a piece of art is In Somniphobia, the ninth studio album by Japanese blackened prog-metallers Sigh
Describing the music on In Somniphobia by genre is impossible. It’s barely metal—while virtuosic darkness, growled vocals, and warlike drumming color all 11 tracks herein, there are also elements of smoky blues, throbbing techno, and spaghetti-western soundtracks. The marching-band horn sections of 2010’s Scenes From Hell are replaced by synthetic romanticism, a kind of sax-and-synth-based psycho-vomit that both enchants and pummels. “The Transfiguration Fear” sounds like a Satanic ritual in Toontown, while “L’excommunica-tion a Minuit” will have fans rolling on the floor at the black-metal revival church. “Amnesia” is a smoke-scented film noir bender, while “Amongst The Phantoms Of Abandoned Tumbrils” merges blackened distortion and European funeral dirges to a perfect degree.
If In Somniphobia has a flaw, it might be that it is at times so weird that its more metal aspects stand out as odd; “Fall To The Thrall,” for instance, sticks out as straight-forward orchestral black metal. This, however, is easily overlooked. There is nothing wrong with cracking metal’s mold if the progression is done well, and Sigh have done that, creating a vivid nightmare beyond simple conception. Good albums make you bang your head, this one will have you jumping out the goddamn window. CHRIS KROVATIN