Home > Music > Sigh – Scorn Defeat (1993)

Sigh – Scorn Defeat (1993)

folderEarly Sigh means spacious black-doom. The first time I took it upon me to review a Sigh album, I mentioned this. Much of the ideas that were explored on Infidel Art are also seen here, but the overall mood is a little bleaker, the production is a little dirtier, etc. This is far from a raw, low fidelity effort – you’ll have to go back to the demos to get one from this band, but if their full length albums are anything to go by, Sigh usually went for a polished sound when they could. Later albums are sonically dense enough that they sometimes suffer from poor mixing, but that’s obviously not a problem here.

Either way, this sort of material got the band signed to Deathlike Silence Productions, of all people, and the material can be somewhat accurately (and punnily) described as “anti-mosh”. I’ve often heard this album described as spiteful in its overall aesthetic, and that seems accurate. The lyrics offer a look into this – they’ve got the occult flavor one expects from early Sigh, but the occasional bits of nasty, feral primitivism in the music drive this home. An obvious example is “At My Funeral”, which has an intro riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Celtic Frost album. There’s still plenty of keyboard antics and experimentation going on, but that extra hint of barbarism, while subtle, is enough to substantially alter the mood of the album.

Anyways, this is still a Sigh album, so there is plenty of experimental weirdness going on here, but most of it is buried under the surface – as often mentioned, it wasn’t really until Hail Horror Hail that Sigh let that overcome them. Here, it most often expresses itself as a tendency towards extended songwriting. This incarnation of Sigh relies fairly heavily on repetition to build atmosphere – perhaps the best example of this is “Ready For The Final War” – several minutes of it are devoted to a phrase of four bars that recurs over and over until the band decided it was getting tiresome and moves on. Scorn Defeat also contains a ritual-sounding interlude named “Gundali”, which also doesn’t particularly evolve throughout its duration but focuses on one mood. Other songs are more varied, particularly the faster, more intense ones like “The Knell”.

Even in their beginning, Sigh was forging a different path than even their fellow countrymen – Abigail and Sabbat come to mind, and they were quick to play up the filthy, primitive aspects of their sound in the early ’90s. Meanwhile, even if Sigh hadn’t imitated Gargoyle and begun playing all genres at all times, they might have drifted further towards a neoclassical sound, kept up the extended songwriting, lightened up aesthetically a bit, and other hypothetical things. I would probably put Scorn Defeat slightly above Infidel Art (the only evidence of such a potential development in the band’s discography) for its greater coherence, although the greater technical and compositional ability displayed on the latter gives it some charms that the former doesn’t have.

Highlights: “A Victory of Dakini”, “At My Funeral”, “Weakness Within”

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