Friday, 16 February 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Harakiri for the Sky - "Arson"

By: Brandon Green

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/02/2018
Label: AOP Records

“Arson” is a massive achievement for Harakiri for the Sky. They took everything that was amazing about “III: Trauma”, and turned up the intensity even higher. If you’re a fan of post-black metal, atmospheric black metal, or introspective music in general, this album is perfect for you.

“Arson” CD//DD//2LP track listing:

1). “Fire, Walk With Me”
2). “The Graves We’ve Dug”
3). “You Are The Scars”
4). “Heroin Waltz”
5). “Tomb Omnia”
6). “Stillborn”
7). “Voidgazer”
8). “Manifesto” (Graveyard Lovers cover)

The Review:  

An impressive follow-up to “III: Trauma” back in 2016, “Arson” wastes very little time throwing the listener into an aggressive, melodic, and atmospheric black metal bliss. With most of the songs clocking in over 8 minutes, Harakiri for the Sky do a wonderful job creating soundscapes that take the listener from crushingly heavy melodic sections to shoegazey piano-laden clean parts that often stick in your head for days. This album is absolutely worth spending over an hour hiking in the woods with headphones on, or staring at the ceiling. Easily contender for album of the year for me and its only February.

“Fire Walk with Me” is the first glimpse of the album. It gives the listener a medley of what we can anticipate from 2018’s “Arson”, and includes some of the best moments of what the album offers.  The track begins with an airy, beautiful keyboard intro following immediately into driving guitars.  Throughout the song there are frequent changes and pauses, which are an opportunity for us to gaze into the musical craftsmanship HKFTS want us to see. The deliberate stops in the track give the listener an opportunity to really appreciate when all of the layers merge and we experience the masterful musicianship in its entirety. Energetic guitar leads meet with passionate harsh vocals which are more of a shout than the traditional black metal scream heard in other modern black metal acts.  The vocals really give this band an extremely memorable sound in what seems to be a flooded genre these days.

“You Are the Scars” starts with a beautiful intro reminiscent of early HIM / goth rock records. Big hitting drums and guitar chords with washy shoegaze-like melodies in the background break into a beautiful clean section mid-way through the track with a “holy shit” moment as the distortion kicks back in with soaring leads and vocals. As the song builds up to its conclusion, epic blast beats push us into even more emotionally intense moments making this track one of the more special ones on “Arson”.

“Heroin Waltz” was the single I first heard before this album dropped, and it got me beyond excited for this release. As track 4 on the album, it fits perfectly. Despite the 100 times I’ve already listened to it, I couldn’t help but crank the volume again in the albums context for the 101th listen. The gorgeous clean intro with ebow guitar leads slamming into punishing blast beat drums and amazing chord structures immediately had me hooked.  The fact this song feels like a waltz with the memorable guitar melodies and 3 / 4 time signatures make this not only tragically melodic, its beyond addicting to listen to. The clean middle section and guitar leads that develop are revisited throughout song and are still constantly stuck in my head. This track really shows off what the band can do as musicians and has me coming back for more. The drumming is absolutely insane on this one.

Tomb Omnia” was another extremely memorable track from “Arson”. As one of the shorter tracks on the album, this song does not disappoint with its heavy hitting melodic intro cutting into folky black metal blast beats and soaring screams. As another single released before the album, it’s a fantastic song placed well on the track listing. It almost feels like part 2 of “Heroin Waltz”, and this is a welcomed thing.

“Arson” is a massive achievement for Harakiri for the Sky. They took everything that was amazing about “III: Trauma”, and turned up the intensity even higher. If I were to nitpick, I would say the album does feel a little long at 1 hour and 11 minutes. Coming in around the 50-minute mark, I think “Arson” would be perfect.  Make no mistakes, the production is top notch, and the song crafting is masterful. This new release reminds me of all of the reasons I fell in love with Agalloch and Alcest separately, but combined into a powerfully emotional and personal experience. Their own interpretation of these styles fits almost too well, and they’ve invented their own sound with it that’s beyond satisfying to listen to. If you’re a fan of post-black metal, atmospheric black metal, or introspective music in general, this album is perfect for you.

“Arson” is available here

Band info: facebook