Review Summary: "Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world"
“Harakiri”, or “Seppuku” is a form of Japanese ritual suicide; specifically undertaken by disembowelment (or simply: “cutting the belly”). It was practiced by the samurai warriors as either a voluntary act to die with honour rather than fall into the hands of the enemy or consequently, as an act of corporal punishment should a samurai bring shame to himself by committing serious offences. Charming…
Now, suicide by disembowelment would seem like standard topics for your average death metal artist and would even make for some lovely, gruesomely graphic album art but not with Austria’s duo, Harakiri for The Sky. Instead of focusing on the gory details or culture that surrounds the act, singer J.J and multi instrumentalist, M.S. confront the ritual in a more symbolic and delicate way- as if their elevating post black metal cuts the belly of the sky to reveal new soundscapes and diverse atmospheres.
Pain has been a constant theme throughout Harakiri for the Sky’s 5 year career. But as explained above, their approach isn’t as direct as Sweden’s Shining or grisly like Cannibal Corpse; the post metal prolonging actually makes it all the more painful. It’s the slow knife that cuts the deepest. Consequently, the vocals throughout “III: Truama” lie atop a foundation of soaring melodies that evoke an increasingly tormenting mentality. Songs like the stand out ‘Calling the Rain’ are drowned in agonising emotions as J.J. cries out distraught lyrics that echo hurt and suffering: “You were not my closest friend, but the longest-serving/You were my fellow… …or at least you tried/But you died last winter, strung up in the stable/ They found you in the morning, dead as our dreams…”
If Harakiri for the Sky does not immediately grip onto your heart then “III: Truama” may be am endurance test for you. Standing at just over 75 minutes there are nonspecific moments during the album where you’ll feel like the songs repeating themselves, with some exceptions such as the dynamic and heart-rending ‘Dry the River’. Post metal is admittedly all about building emotion to create a sensational climax and repetition does take precedence to achieve this, however the same techniques are applied the same time rather too often here. After listening to a few tracks, the remaining songs start to become predictable. You can tell when the music is going to break down into a tearful melody which then is going to implode after the jarring tremolo and blast beats; such is the case with tracks like ‘The Traces We Leave’ and ‘This Life is a Dagger’.
Injected into the veins of this depressive black metal are moments of resplendence that draw out the oozing grief with textured emotions, but there is always an element of hope to “III: Trauma”-albeit miniscule. ‘Thanatos’ and ‘Funeral Dreams’ features some damning guitar chugs while the hopeful harmonies linger behind yet it’s these positive tones that resonate more clearly throughout the album-once they pierce through the dense and woeful atmospheres-which solidifies the truth that they’re already on their way to filling, at least some of, the shoes that Agalloch left after their disbandment earlier this year.