Japan Lets Out A Sigh; Plus Arch Enemy, Nachtmystium & More News That Rules, In Metal File

'I hate 99 percent of the people on this earth,' black-metal band's frontman says.

Mirai Kawashima, the frontman for Japanese experimental black-metal band Sigh, is pissed. He’s not mad that the band’s U.S. dates with Mayhem were canceled when Mayhem drummer Hellhammer broke his hand, or that Sigh’s U.S. headlining shows were nixed because they were improperly booked. And he’s not even upset that Sigh’s seventh studio album, Hangman’s Hymn — one of the most innovative, unusual and brilliantly assembled extreme-metal discs this year — will be dwarfed in sales by some upcoming release by the next metalcore flavor of the month. No, Kawashima’s rage has more to do with his generalized disgust for the values and beliefs of modern man.

“I hate 99 percent of the people on this earth,” he said in a soft voice. “I hate weak people who have to cling to fairy tales like religion, and I hate greedy people that have nothing more than making money in their head. I just want all of them to die.”

Well, that accounts for the rage on Hangman’s Hymn, but not the artistry. Since their first album, 1993′s Scorn Defeat, Sigh have incorporated jazz twists, psychedelic interludes and orchestral flourishes into their songs. Hangman’s Hymn, which was largely influenced by Wagner, Weber and Mozart, is less jarring, but it’s even more creative. The tempos of songs like “Inked in Blood” and “Death With Dishonor” are still fast enough to trip up a NASCAR champion, but the way they’re constructed — by incorporating violins, cellos, horns, bells, keyboard and choirs — is more akin to classical opera than high-rise demolition.

“Good opera is so emotional and powerful,” Kawashima said. “And that’s what I was inspired by. A lot of black-metal bands use keyboards and strings for embellishments. But the keyboard parts and orchestration on Hangman’s Hymn are not embellishments. They are as important to the songs as the guitars, bass and drums. So even though it’s very metal, you can say it’s pretty much classical music as well.”

Like many operas, Hangman’s Hymn is divided into three acts. There’s no distinct story line, but each act represents a different set of ideas as presented through symbolic references to heaven, hell, earth and death.

“Act one and two is about the greed of humanity on this planet,” Kawashima said. “And act three is about destruction and images of burning like an inferno. Then, at the end of act three, there’s an image of heaven in the song ‘In Paradisum’ and lots of Latin chanting to create the image of the funeral. I didn’t want to have a plot because it’s more powerful to create strong images.”

As multifaceted as Hangman’s Hymn is, Kawashima said it was the easiest Sigh album to write so far. On past releases, he has painstakingly written, arranged, recorded, re-written, re-recorded and rearranged for months on end. This time, however, the songs practically created themselves and there was no shortage of ideas. Three months after he started writing, he was done.

“I was just driven over a very short amount of time and I came up with many ideas in that time,” he said. “I think it happened so fast because I had such a clear vision of the concept from the very beginning.”

Kawashima, who works on video game and TV music when he’s not writing for Sigh, created 70 percent of the music for Hangman’s Hymn before inviting his bandmates Shinichi Ishikawa (guitar), Satoshi Fujinami (bass) and Junichi Harashima (drums) to add their input. After that, the entire album was recorded quickly, scheduled for release and came out June 12.

As talented and prolific as Kawashima is, he is unable to support himself strictly with his music. So, in the morning, he heads downtown to work at a Japanese telecommunications company, then works on his sinister songs at night.

“I actually think it’s good to have a day job because I don’t have to live on music, and that lets me do anything I want musically,” he concluded. “Of course, it would be great if I could live just on my music, doing something I like, but it’s very hard. If you live in Japan, it’s not easy to tour the U.S. or Europe. So having a day job and a band is the best thing.”

The rest of the week’s metal news:

Metal File has confirmed that Arch Enemy‘s forthcoming LP will be called Rise of the Tyrant and is slated to land in stores September 25. The disc will boast 11 tracks, including “Blood on Your Hands,” “I Will Live Again” and “The Great Darkness.” In addition, the band will make a major fall tour announcement in the coming weeks — the trek will begin in early September. … It’s official: The Black Dahlia Murder‘s forthcoming album Nocturnal will hit stores September 18 and include “Virally Yours.” You can read more about the disc here.

While most of us would love to one day see a full-on Sepultura reunion go down, two of the band’s founding members — brothers Max and Igor Cavalera — are said to be working together on new material for what will be the closest thing to a Sepultura reunion we’re likely ever to get. The brothers Cavalera expect to hit a Los Angeles recording studio next week to begin recording songs for the still-unnamed band’s debut LP, which could be in stores as early as December. Metal File will have more news on this story as it develops. …

Floridian death-metallers Obituary have signed on to the Indianapolis Metal Fest, which is scheduled for September 22 at a yet-to-be-determined venue. Others secured for the bill include Full Blown Chaos, Daath and Alabama Thunderpussy. … The forthcoming set from Soilwork — which the Swedish metal act has been working on for the last several months — is in the bag and ready for release later this year. According to a statement from the band, “It sounds excellent … great sound, great playing and a good mix of songs.” The yet-untitled follow-up to 2005′s Stabbing the Drama will include “Your Beloved Scapegoat,” “Light Discovering Darkness” and “The Pittsburgh Syndrome.” …

Today Is the Day — which, for one album, featured Mastodon‘s Brann Dailor and Bill Kelliher — will return September 18 with Axis of Eden. A subsequent tour begins September 13 in Boston and is booked through October 7 in Nashville. … Let’s hope this rumor ends up being true: There’s loads of online speculation these days that has Rotting Christ and Immolation teaming up for a North American tour that would kick off in February. More information regarding the trek is expected to surface in the next few months. …

Death Angel frontman Mark Osegueda nearly lost an eye during a recent recording session with his new side project, All Time Highs. According to a statement from the band, Osegueda was tracking vocals Sunday at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California, when he passed out and fell forward, into a microphone stand. “The pole went into his eye [and] he was rushed to the hospital shortly after. The doctors did tests and the beautiful eye is going to make it. No serious injuries occurred. Just a torn eyeball.” Yeah, just a torn eyeball. No big deal. “Everyone pray for our beloved singer and metal icon — and please don’t forget to pray for his lovely eyeball as well,” the band said in the statement. …

Chicago’s Nachtmystium have inked a deal with Century Media, which will re-release the black-metallers’ debut disc, 2005′s Eulogy IV, in the fall. A new full-length will follow early next year. … Agoraphobic Nosebleed will issue a limited-edition split release with Apartment 213, Domestic Powerviolence, July 10. It’ll hold fans over while the Nosebleed continue writing stuff for their next full-length LP. There’s still no word on when that offering might surface, but we’ll keep you in the loop. …

Ozzfest 2006 vets Full Blown Chaos return August 21 with Heavy Lies the Crown, which was produced by the band along with Biohazard‘s Billy Graziadei. According to a statement from frontman Ray Mazzola, “This is the sound of us getting ready for war. Our last album was very encouraging, with many positive overtones. I’m still a positive person but we’ve gone through so many challenges and battles with friends, family, significant others and people we know since we’ve become a full-time band that all of those negative experiences ended up fueling our music further. Like I always tell those closest to us, ‘If you f— with someone in this band, you’re gonna end up with a song about you.’ ” …

On July 17, Malevolent Creation‘s new one, Doomsday X, will hit stores. The Floridian extremists’ latest features 11 tracks, including “Deliver My Enemy,” “Strength in Numbers” and “Buried in a Nameless Grave.” … Hostility have split with drummer Andrew Holzbaur. According to a statement from the Bay Area metallers, who’re fresh from a recent road stint with Skinlab, Ankla and Pain Principle, the shakeup is owed to “musical differences.” More specifically, Holzbaur “was going in a different direction then the rest of us. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.” A man down, Hostility will begin auditioning potential replacements ASAP; those interested in giving it a shot can contact the band through
its MySpace page.