Album Review – Harakiri For The Sky / Mӕre (2021)

This Atmospheric Black Metal duo from Austria returns with a breathtaking collection of tales from feverish dreams in the form of their fifth full-length opus.

Mӕre, a malicious folkloristic entity creeping on sleeping people’s chest during the night and causing breathlessness and anxiety, is the exact state of diffuse terror and paralysis that has been enshrined in Vienna, Austria-based Atmospheric Black Metal duo Harakiri For The Sky’s music ever since their debut album. Now in 2021, a breathtaking collection of tales from feverish dreams is being released in the form of the band’s fifth full-length opus Mӕre, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2018 album Arson. Founded in 2011 by vocalist J.J. and multi-instrumentalist M.S., the aim of Harakiri For The Sky has always been to create a unique mixture of melancholy and aggression, madness and meaning, wrapped in alternately manic and mellow songs that bridged Black Metal and Atmospheric Post-Rock. Featuring session drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner (Septicflesh, Act of Denial) and an atmospheric artwork by Meike Hakkaart (Art of Maquenda), Mӕre will haunt your soul and darken your heart in a majestic way, being therefore highly recommended for fans of the somber music crafted by bands like Alcest, Wolves In The Throne Room and Agalloch.

The atmospheric guitars by M.S. kick off the venomous opening track I, Pallbearer, with Kerim hammering his drums in great Black Metal fashion, providing J.J. al he needs to vociferate rabidly. In other words, what a sensational start to the album, ending with gorgeous, serene piano notes and setting the tone for Sing for the Damage We’ve Done, a lesson in Atmospheric Post-Black Metal that’s as visceral and aggressive as it’s melodic and epic, with guest vocalist Neige (from bands like Alcest and Zero) helping J.J. declaim the song’s poetic and introspective words (“It’s been so long, it’s difficult to tell / If I truly miss what I once called home / It’s been so long, it’s difficult to tell / If this truly was my longest way home”). Another round of their imposing and captivating sounds fills our ears in the pulverizing Us Against December Skies, where J.J. sounds bestial with his sick screams while M.S. slashes his stringed weapons mercilessly supported by the always infernal blast beats by Kerim, and you better prepare your senses for 11 minutes of modern-day, vibrant Atmospheric Black Metal in the form of I’m All About the Dusk, where M.S. will hit you in the head with his low-tuned bass while piercing your mind with his riffage, being full of breaks and variations and an endless sense of despair. And the duo continues to spread darkness and rage through their devilish roars and riffs in Three Empty Words, another good tune blending the heaviness of Melodic Black Metal with Post-Black Metal where Kerim proves why he was invited by J.J. and M.S. to be responsible for the drumming duties.

Atmospheric Black Metal usually means lengthy songs, and in the case of Harakiri For The Sky that’s translated into a thrilling musical voyage through obscure lands titled Once upon a Winter, a multi-layered and very detailed composition where J.J. takes his rage and despair to the next level, whereas in And Oceans Between Us we face more of their cryptic, somber lyrics (“You were the ailment / And leaving was the cure / I fell away and I still suffer / And year by year I’m fading away”) enfolded by a beyond mesmerizing sonority led by the strident guitars by M.S., exhaling epicness and bringing to our ears grandiose passages intertwined with classic Black Metal beats. The anonymous vocalist of Portuguese Black Metal band Gaerea lends his sharp vocals to the Stygian tune Silver Needle // Golden Dawn, with the song’s guitars overflowing pure Atmospheric Black Metal while drums and vocals lean towards contemporary Post-Metal, and acoustic guitars kick off the melancholic and embracing Time Is a Ghost, growing in intensity as the music progresses with Kerim stealing the spotlight with his infernal drumming, while J.J. continues to growl and bark just the way we like it in extreme music. And as the icing on the cake, Harakiri For The Sky offer our ears a fantastic version for Song to Say Goodbye, from the 2006 album Meds by Placebo (you can check the original version HERE), and let me tell you the band did a tremendous job adding a gargantuan amount of obscurity and heaviness to their version, with J.J. taking the lead with his trademark hellish roars.

As you might already know, the word “harakiri” means a ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practiced in Japan by samurai as an honorable alternative to disgrace or execution, and after listening to the deep, scorching music found in Mӕre it’s easy to understand why the name of the band was chosen to be Harakiri For The Sky, piercing your soul like a samurai sword and eliminating all traces of life from your body, therefore leaving you in pitch black darkness for all eternity. Hence, don’t forget to give the duo a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to stream more of their enfolding music on Spotify, and to purchase their excellent new opus by clicking HERE. Needless to say, you should definitely go for the very special CD Wooden Boxset edition of the album, available from AOP Records, EMP, Nuclear Blast and Amazon. Melancholic and aggressive, Mӕre represents another solid stone in the career of Harakiri For The Sky, showing us all that in Atmospheric Black Metal there’s nothing better than a never-ending, eerie onrush of fear and terror.

Best moments of the album: Sing for the Damage We’ve Done, I’m All About the Dusk and And Oceans Between Us.

Worst moments of the album: Three Empty Words.

Released in 2021 AOP Records

Track listing
1. I, Pallbearer 7:06
2. Sing for the Damage We’ve Done 8:05
3. Us Against December Skies 8:21
4. I’m All About the Dusk 11:09
5. Three Empty Words 9:29
6. Once upon a Winter 10:27
7. And Oceans Between Us 8:57
8. Silver Needle // Golden Dawn 7:09
9. Time Is a Ghost 8:33
10. Song to Say Goodbye (Placebo cover) 5:25

Band members
J.J. – vocals
M.S. – all instruments

Guest musicians
Kerim “Krimh” Lechner – drums (session)
Neige – additional vocals on “Sing for the Damage We’ve Done”
Anonymous – additional vocals on “Silver Needle // Golden Dawn”

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