Harakiri For The Sky – Mӕre (Album Review)

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With four full-length albums now behind them, the fifth studio outing from Harakiri For The Sky makes obvious that the duo have honed their creative chemistry even further, with “Mӕre” showing off their distinct style in all its glory. Each track of the album boasts an elevation from their past work, and bears the distinct branding of a clear lead guitar guiding frenetic drums. After having long been cited as a band for fans of Wolves In The Throne Room or Alcest, this album breaks away from mere comparison and allows Harakiri For The Sky to stand alone, a deserving spotlight for a band on the leading edge of post-black metal. Their approach to the subgenre’s desolate atmosphere comes by means of invigorating enthusiasm, enthralling listeners with intensity while never abandoning the sound’s definitive futility. 

Harakiri For The Sky have been climbing steadily towards center stage since their self-titled debut in 2012, having been scheduled to headline a North American tour in 2020 before its inevitable cancellation. The band delivers their darkness by means of a duo, with J.J. on vocals and M.S. handling dual duty on both guitar and bass. To round out the album they recruited Septicflesh drummer Kerim “Krimh“ Lechner for a fantastic barrage of percussive fury. Together they invoke imagery of a torrential downpour borne from a storm of emotion, soaking each verse with both rage and melancholy. Combining their talents yields vibrant expression beyond the boundaries of anger alone: evocative vocal delivery mingles with obvious instrumental prowess, an effect heightened by purposeful composition.

For all of the aggression inherent in their musical style, Harakiri For The Sky demonstrate the more atmospheric tendencies of their art with tender instrumental passages and breathtaking cinematic heights. These interludes and openings offer respite from chaos and add an element of warmth, best showcased in the welcoming introduction of “I, Pallbearer.” Such moments are not without their intricacies, as “Sing For The Damage We’ve Done” eases the listener from a soothing blend of percussion and strings into J.J.’s cacophonous howls. He manages to scream in both a howl and a whisper, an effect mastered by a somewhat muted presentation when compared to a bright and forward guitar. This offset is even further accentuated by a full bass, filling “Mӕre” with depth and melodic substance in equal measure.

“Mӕre” Album Artwork

Yet another ambitious decision in this album’s craft is its runtime: with ten tracks ranging up to eleven minutes long, “Mӕre” in its entirety flirts with the ninety-minute mark. When listening to this album, however, the time all but melts away as the atmosphere envelopes the listener. That’s not to say that devouring this album whole is any less of a mammoth commitment, but falling into the tempting embrace of longest track “I’m All About the Dusk” is effortless. Harakiri For The Sky have mastered the art of crafting an eternal winter, one which encourages acceptance that the sun may never rise again, and that sitting amongst the snow and frost may be the safest place after all. And as M.S. guides the listener along with comforting melodies, there’s nothing more desirable than succumbing to its draw. 

There is little question Harakiri For The Sky have blossomed by digging their heels into their distinct style, and the album is stronger for this continuity. However, this continuity also has its drawbacks as already long tracks begin to settle into a predictable rhythm, becoming something of an extended meditation. “And Oceans Between Us” does little to bring additional dimension to the album, falling somewhat from the spectacular grace of “Once Upon A Winter.” The latter succeeds in utilizing the the chill of winter to paint a cinematic soundscape, widening the scope with one of the album’s most memorable riffs in M.S.’s capable hands. 

“Mӕre” winds down with a natural conclusion, as “Time Is A Ghost” leads the descent towards final track “Song To Say Goodbye.” This masterpiece weaves strands of light amongst darkness, leaving the listener with a lone whisper of hope before the album draws to a close. Though somewhat monotonous in the middle and requiring a substantial time commitment, “Mӕre” follows a cohesive path and paints an intimate poetic journey.  If nothing else, the album is a beautiful exploration of balancing peace and furor, delivered by a band stepping earnestly into their potential. 

Released By: AOP Records
Release Date: January 29th, 2021
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

Musicians:

  • M.S. / Guitar, Bass
  • J.J. / Vocals

Guest/Session Musicians:

  • Kerim “Krimh“ Lechner / Drums

“Mӕre” Track-listing:

  1. I, Pallbearer
  2. Sing For The Damage We’ve Done
  3. Us Against December Skies
  4. I’m All About The Dusk
  5. Three Empty Words
  6. Once Upon A Winter
  7. And Oceans Between Us
  8. Silver Needle – Golden Dawn
  9. Time Is A Ghost
  10. Song To Say Goodbye
8.3 Great

Harakiri For The Sky find themselves on stronger footing than ever before, with fifth studio album "Maere" further solidifying their identity while showing off their ever-greater ambition.

  • Songwriting 8
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8
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