Harakiri for the Sky – Arson (AOP Records, 16 February 2018)
Hey! Remember a few months back when we passed along the news that the Austrian post-black metal twosome known as Harakiri for the Sky would be returning soon with a new album? If not, it was here (November) and here (December), each time with a video of a new song from Arson.
Well since that time, they put out another video in January (see below to check that out), and — oh yeah — the album itself dropped via AOP about a month and a half ago. For those who have been paying attention to the updates, this record is every bit as good as you would have expected from the preview tracks. Which you probably already know because you already got yourself a copy. But for the rest of you…
If I wanted to explain to someone exactly what is meant by the term “post-black metal” it would be much easier to just tell them to go listen to Arson. Opening track “Fire, Walk with Me” sets up a pensive, almost brooding mood with the incorporation of a piano part, on top of which the drums blast onward relentlessly. This, combined with the many layers of guitars (and often synths as well) produce an overall effect of endlessly barraging one’s ears with a dense aural assault. In other words, the outward appearance has the same sort of feeling as black metal. Throughout that song and the six that follow — for nearly seventy minutes altogether — this mass of sound just keeps going and going.
Those layers of guitars will take on the guise of black metal on rare occasions as well, a rapid-fire rhythmic presentation that mimics that of the ceaselessly galloping drums. But far more often they come across as sustained harmonized notes, emotive to the point of mournfulness if you listen closely enough to pick out the individual parts, while in concatenation the assembled whole just sounds dense and heavy if you let your ears unfocus. The album’s vocals (all of which are performed by band member “J.J.” just as all of the instrumental parts are provided by “M.S.”) bridge the wistful melancholy and the aggressive weightiness, with a typically post-hardcore style of shriek-screaming — angsty yet depressive, like all of the stages of grieving wrapped in a single package. Sounding like they are shouted from very far away, the vocals are draped in layer upon layer of thick reverb throughout — although this only really becomes apparent as the final track “Voidgazer” gradually fades away, leaving each individual echo and reflection to ring out.
As a bonus, following the seven tracks of the album proper, the band takes the Modest Mousey grunge-pop of Graveyard Lovers‘ “Manifesto,” runs it through their own post-metal filter, tacks on guest vocals by Silvija Bogojevic, and then injects the whole thing with an odd punky sense of energy — somehow working out as a fun little addendum to an otherwise expansively epic record.
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