(Andy Synn reviews the new album by the Austrian band Harakiri For the Sky, which will be released by AOP Records on February 16th.)
If you’re a long-time follower of the site you may have picked up on an ongoing war of words between some of our writers about how to properly categorise the music of the Austrian duo Harakiri for the Sky.
And while I agree that how you choose to describe their sound doesn’t directly affect the quality of their material one iota, I still think it’s important that we use the right terms and the right language when writing about the band (or any band), as it can definitely have an effect on how people judge and perceive them.
All of which is a very long-winded way of saying that Arson is one damn fine slab of punchy, pulse-quickening Melodeath… and I won’t hear a single word to the contrary!
It should be obvious to anyone with ears that HFTS have still very much brought their A-Game to this, their fourth album, kicking off with the galloping drums and high-octane riffs of the decidedly Insomnium-esque “Fire, Walk With Me”, with vocalist J.J. howling out creatively cathartic lyrics with all the vim and vigour of a man who still has something to prove to the world… and has every intention of doing just that.
Follow-up “The Graves We’ve Dug” is just as gleamingly melodic and emotionally electrifying as its predecessor, albeit with perhaps a tad more emphasis on moody ambience, while “You Are The Scars” puts a heavier focus on groove and atmosphere (interspersed with the occasional injection of hard-hitting blastbeats courtesy of the inimitable Kerim “Krimh” Lechner) in a way that wouldn’t sound out of place on an album by the now defunct Before the Dawn.
Speaking of blastbeats… “Heroin Waltz” (the video for which you can stream below) is chock-full of them, although that doesn’t make it “Black Metal” in any shape or form. It does however help make it one of the most aggressive and dynamic tunes on the album, juxtaposing its fiery fury against a background of cool melodic melancholy in a captivating interplay of musical light and shade.
Without spoiling things too much (as half the enjoyment of a new album is discovering its many secrets and hidden delights for yourself), suffice it to say that the rest of the album follows a similar pattern to what I’ve laid out above, mixing high-velocity intensity with brooding metallic grooves and heart-wrenching melodies in a way that’s certainly more than a little Finnish in both form and function, with the multifaceted magic of “Stillborn” and the instantly-captivating “Voidgazer” being perhaps the biggest and brightest highlights (the latter in particular could well have served as a better and more climactic finale to the album than the undeniably intriguing, but not particularly earth-shattering, “Manifesto”).
Ultimately, while Arson doesn’t quite generate the same frisson of electric excitement as its phenomenal predecessor (which, if you’ll recall, I boldly declared one of the best albums of 2016), it’s definitely not through any lack of trying, and it’s still a more than worthy follow-up that deserves to find its place in any discerning collection.
Just don’t call it “Post Black Metal”, or we’ll be having words.