February is the biggest bummer of a month in northern Europe. The Christmas markets have long since closed, all the pretty sparkly lights are gone, and you know it’s going to be at least another month or two before the days start to feel any longer or warmer. Everything is gray and slushy and miserable; it’s enough to make you want to pull a fluffy blanket over your face and hide until spring (or possibly summer).
And maybe that’s exactly what the masterminds of Austrian post-black metal band Harakiri for the Sky were counting on with the February release of their fourth full-length album, “Arson.” Sadness has always been their bread and butter, after all, and fans of bleak music like me are a housebound, captive audience in February; there’s nothing I like better than listening to melancholy metal when I’m trapped indoors, sobbing into a pillow because the sun went down before I even got out of bed.
With Harakiri for the Sky, though, it’s not all doom and gloom. One of the band’s defining features is its melodic hooks, which weave their way through every track of an album – and they are present in abundance on “Arson.” The shimmering guitars always lighten the mood on songs that might otherwise be truly heavy fare, slowly building into layers that wrap you up just like the aforementioned fluffy blanket. Like the band’s previous release, “III: Trauma,” the tracks on “Arson” sample from a range of different genres – “The Graves We Dug” draws its riffs straight from later Alcest, while “Stillborn” has a definite punk vibe. And “Manifesto” is something quite different altogether, with clean female vocals and a distinctive emocore feel.
“Arson” should be an insta-buy for hardcore fans of Harakiri for the Sky; there’s no question about that. The compositions are complex and engaging, the engineering is flawless, and the melodies are just as haunting as they’ve ever been. But for my part, this album is missing that special spark. “Arson” treads a well-worn path, and I couldn’t help feeling like I’d heard a few of these songs before. The one noticeable difference is the overall atmosphere, which veers slightly toward metalcore; that’s not a change I can personally get on board with, although some fans might find it to be a refreshing twist. As for me, I’m going back under the blankets. Call me when the sun comes out again.
Release date: February 16th, 2018
Label: AOP Records
Words by Sam
1. Fire, walk with me
2. The graves we’ve dug
3. You are the scars
4. Heroin Waltz
5. Tomb Omnia
8. Manifesto (bonus track)