Room Thirteen recently got the chance to interview Sigh frontman and songwriter Mirai Kawashima on the band's new album 'Hangman's Hymmn' and much more!

R13: 'Hangman's Hymn' has a harder and much more orchestral feel to your earlier albums and is a departure from the previous more progressive style, what led the band to choose this new style and do you plan to continue on with it?
Mirai Kawashima: Usually when I write songs for an album, I keep changing arrangement and direction, so I can't expect what the album will sound like before it's actually recorded. However, as far as 'Hangman's Hymn', I came up with the whole vision of the album from the very beginning. What I had in my mind was Germany symphonies and opera to express the world of 'Hangman's Hymn'. As it was planned as an album filled with hatred and anger, I decided to exclude any other forms of music than classical music and metal. If the music was more varied, the focus on hatred and anger could have been blurred. At the moment, I am thinking of continuing this style for the next album, but it's not for sure yet. Now we have a new member Mikannibal, who takes care of saxophone and half of the vocals, and definitely she will add a new dimension to the band.

R13: There is a much stronger orchestral presence on the new album, which composers in particular have inspired you in playing this new style?
MK: Mainly the German composers from the Romantic Era were the inspiration for 'Hangman's Hymn'. People may think classical music is something beautiful, but actually there were a lot of morbid composers especially in the Romantic era. Schubert was 100% an unhappy man, and his works are so dark and
depressive. Especially his last piano sonata is insanely dark; Schumann himself went crazy and died. His works are filled with insanity too. Liszt got a strong manic depression in his later age, His later piano works sound crazy. Wagner was even suspected as an accomplice to the arson to a music theatre. So I can say 'Hangman's Hymn' is a mixture of ugliness of heavy meta land the ugliness of Classical music!

R13:. 'Hangman's Hymn' is split into three separate acts, does the album have an overall story or concept behind it?
MK: I won't call 'Hangman's Hymn' a concept album because it doesn't have any strong storyline or anything behind the lyrics, but still there are some connections between the songs both musically and lyrically. The message behind the album is pretty simple. I hate weak people who have to cling to fairytales like religions. I hate greedy people who have nothing in their head other than making money. I hate 99% of people on this earth and I just want all of them to die. I'm not pretending to be a misanthrope, but I mean it! There are four main images described on the album: Heaven, Hell, Earth and Funeral. They are also depicted on the artwork of the inner sleeve.

As you see, the album is divided in 3 acts and Act 1 is about Earth = greed. Act 3 is about Hell = the burning world. Heaven is described at the end of the album as In Paradisum, but diminishing chords interrupted it very quickly. The funeral image is inserted in between as Requiem parts sung in Latin. They all are described very vaguely as an expression of my hatred towards this society. Also there are lots of melodies that have meanings. The most prominent one should be the Hangman's Hymn theme. It's the melody in the chorus of Hangman's Hymn played by trumpets and choirs, this melody appears in many other places. For example, the chorus of 'In Devil's Arms' actually is the Hangman's Hymn theme.

R13: During the albums production you posted on the internet for help from fans to sing Latin for a choir to be put together for the new album. Did this turn out as well as you wanted? What gave you the idea to incorporate the use of volunteers for the record rather than a professional choir?
MK: Yes, it turned out to be really good. Hiring a professional choir here inJapan isn't easy. It will cost a lot and most of them have a strong Japanese accent, which I did not want. So I thought the best way should be asking our fans for help!

R13: Your last album, 'Gallows Gallery' had a notably more lo-fi production sound to it than either 'Imaginary Sonicscape' or 'Hangman's Hymn', what led to this choice?
MK: To be honest, the horrible mastering ruined it. The label had the album mastered by an amateur guy who did mastering for hobby The first mastering was even worse, and I turned it down, and the second one was horrible again, but the label didn't want to take more time.

Fortunately it is being re-mastered by James Murphy now, and it will be re-released some time in the near future. Also there was a talk about sonic weapon being used on the album, but I must say it was 100% a joke. Century Media did not want to release it as it was not black metal enough. We made up a story about sonic weapons instead of announcing a lame label-changing story. It was just a small joke, but somehow it became the centre of attention!

R13: With 'Gallows Gallery' you also introduced the use of clean singing,
something new for Sigh, can we expect to see more use of it in future Sigh

MK: If the music requires it, there'll be clean singing again. Gallows Gallery was a sad nostalgic album, and the clean singing was the best to express the feeling the album required. On the other hand, Hangman's Hymn was a very much hateful album, it definitely it had to have harsh vocals. On the new album, Mikannibal will do the vocals a lot, and she can sing really well too so the vocals will be more varied than before.

R13: You've recently gained a new vocalist/saxophonist, Mikannibal. What ledto her joining the band, and how have you found the live shows since her

MK: At first we were searching for the models for 'Hangman's Hymn's' inner artwork, and I met her through one of our friends. Then she told me that she sang in a band too and gave me the CD. Honestly, I was notexpecting much at first, but after giving it a listen, I was totally blownaway.

Then I saw her on stage and came to the conclusion that she was the one we needed. She can sing, scream and growl. She can play the saxophone. She speaks English. Moreover she looks really good. So, why not? With Mikannibal, now we can play lots of tracks, which we could not reproduce on stage before. She takes care of the saxophone and shares half of the vocals with me, so I can concentrate on the synthesizer more.

R13: Being one of the first notable metal bands from Japan, how would you say the metal scene in Japan has changed and developed in the last two decades? How popular is metal in Japan currently?
MK: Definitely the metal scene was much bigger 20 years ago when heavy metal belonged to the mainstream here. Back then Loudness played at Budokan for thousands of people, but such a thing would never happen again for the domestic bands here now. Well, melodic power metal stuff from Europe is still very popular in Japan and they sell lots of albums, but as far as Japanese metal bands go, they all belong to the underground unless you are visual-kei crap. However, the underground scene has been getting better in the last two decades in my opinion. Now there are several Japanese extreme metal bands that got the international deal and some of them are recognized pretty well. There weren't many Japanese thrash metal bands internationally recognized back in the 80s, probably Casbah was the only one.

R13: What are your touring plans at the moment? Do you have any plans to tour or visit the UK?
MK: Unfortunately we don't have a concrete tour plan at the moment. We were supposed to tour the US this summer but it was cancelled for some reasons beyond our control. It's been 12 years since we played in the UK last time, so we'd love to visit there again very soon.

R13: You've had members of the English band The Meads of Asphodel add guest> parts to previous albums of yours, how did you get to know the band in the first place?
BK: I don't remember well, but I guess I heard from them via e-mail asking me to play synthesizers on their album. Then our correspondence began.

R13: Which other contemporary bands would you say inspire you the most currently?
MK: Well, mostly I still listen to the same old stuff as I used to when I was a teenager, namely 80s stuff, but I also love some of today's bands such as Bludwulf, Municipal Waste, Merciless Death, Blood Tsunami and so on. Actually they all sound like they were from the 80s though.

R13:And last of all, is it intentional that when put in order the first
letter of the titles of your releases spell out S-I-G-H twice?

MK: Yes, it is intentional. I even didn't tell other members of the
band about this, so few people noticed it for the first spelling out.

For more information on Sigh and to listen to samples of their new album 'Hangman's Hymn' then please visit