Review Summary: Something to fill an empty space.
Austria’s Harakiri for the Sky demonstrate a specific vein of post metal. Infusing themes of suicide and depression with a post-black metal bleakness to it, this band is able to project all manner of negative attitudes. Listing to their music, people find themselves dwelling on what-might-have-been scenarios from their past, mulling over forgotten failures, or submerging themselves in self-pity, never to surface again. If you find solace in solitude and the fact other people in the world do too, Harakiri for the Sky’s fourth album, “Arson”
, is essential.
Whereas on previous albums the band had a tendency to linger on certain movements in each song to emphasise feelings of longing and melancholy, and extract as much pain as they could, Harakiri for the Sky manages to maintain a constant, determined pace across the lengthy span of “Arson”
. Instead of changing the speed at which they play, the duo simply changes the song’s rhythm more frequently. By doing this, they keep their audience constantly hooked as the band drift from mellifluous melodies to defiant riffs, then from extended drum fills to cascading tremolo riffing as J.J roars overhead during “The Graves We’ve Dug”; all without sacrificing the sense of urgency and rush of agony that the song evokes. Variation is a common occurrence throughout this album, however, the band always leads back to the core riff or melody that the song is built around, bringing about a sense of closure to each song.
While some of the lyrics scattered about “Arson”
are still awkwardly simplistic, the fact that they are drawn from personal tragedy and conveyed with such an honest deliverance makes the simplicity more evocative. When you can feel overwhelming emotions starting to crack the weathered walls of your spirit, you don’t convey your thoughts and feelings profoundly- they explode out in blunt fashion, unfazed at whatever response they provoke. This outpouring of passion is exactly what Harakiri for the Sky displays sonically and lyrically. J.J sings practically in one single tone in every song, falling somewhere between comprehensibly gruff and sorrowful howls, however, the female singing in their cover of Graveyard Lover’s “Manifesto” offers gentleness and a welcome variety to the vocals on “Arson”
. Furthermore, “Fire, Walk with Me” showcases his ability to increase the level of intensity in the song at calculated moments that require an extra boost of passion to project the vigour this album holds.
Each sentiment J.J describes in his lyrics is accentuated by M.S’ outstanding instrumentalism. Reminiscence, regret, a smidgen of hope and devastating sadness are all presented during the opening minute of “You are the Scars” through piano and lugubrious guitar melodies. Throughout “Arson”
, pattering guitar notes or dreamy melodies also assist in creating bridges between otherwise intense riffs, offering either a glimpse of hope or a moment of respite to songs such as the dejected “Stillborn”. However, the band’s crowning achievement over this album lies with the breathless “Heroin Waltz”. Here, the band’s effective bridges, captivating cries and thunderous drumming layered underneath heartfelt melodies all seamlessly conjoin to create a truly cinematic climax; one comparable to the enriching standards of Cult of Luna, Amenra or Wolves in the Throne Room.
Considering the album is nearly 72 minutes long it is well crafted, sounding like a coherent journey through the life of a tormented soul and the moments where Harakiri for the Sky unleash their pain and toil in a controlled manner is what makes “Arson”
such an emotionally destructive album. Nevertheless, it is, only down to these singular, admittedly brilliant moments that propel the record above its predecessors. Still, Harakiri for the Sky appears to have accomplished everything they intended to do over their three previous albums. Contrary to the band’s depressive motif, things can only get better for them now.