On their fourth post-metal tinged shoegazing black metal full-length Harikiri For The Sky are a confident extreme metal workhorse primed and ready for bigger leagues. As much time as modern black metal bands spend on unique style and production sound so very few make an effort to write gratifying music. In fact for all of their inherent genre-splicing Harikiri For The Sky are dead set on writing endearing, emotional music that is difficult to disconnect from. ‘Arson’ has this long-winded sense of composition that is captivating in it’s ability to communicate it’s ideas ad infinitum with plenty of repetition that somehow manages to never dry itself out. In fact, I found myself leaving the album on repeat for hours upon hours while I did other things. At the very least ‘Arson’ is some of the best ‘background metal’ of the year so far.
The decades long success of extreme, and melodic, bands like Rotting Christ have depended on the same sort of guitar hooks that Harikiri For The Sky employ in their music and the greatest strength of ‘Arson’ is the middling, semi-defeated shouts of the vocalist and the lead guitars that provide any central melodic. The mood is conveyed with riffs that resemble years of listening to October Tide and perhaps their generation spawned ‘suicidal black metal’ children Forgotten Tomb. In fact if you yearn for the despondent melodic black metal of early Forgotten Tomb you’ll find a warm and safe place on this record. Though you’re getting a full 72 minutes of that warmth, so steel yourself beforehand.
The lyrics deal with complicated relationships, drug use, and the general human condition of a man enthralled by revenge and resentment. I don’t think I’ve come across such honesty and spite in regards to personal relationships in extreme metal since perhaps Vehemence and uh, those were mostly about murderous revenge. Songs are long 8-10 minute affairs that are largely self-cyclic and the song-writing looks for a soft, warm melodic pocket and relishes in those moments to the point of spacing the listener out. It is a catharsis that is seemingly endless as it reaches towards an hour and a half in length. So, if you don’t enjoy a song you preview here the rest of the album will likely never appeal to you. Much like the previous album ‘III: Trauma’ they’ve written a set of songs that more or less blend together without many seams to let you breathe from, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for becoming exhausted with ‘Arson’.
That isn’t to say there are no major improvements made here on the fourth album. The drumming has greatly improved, as far as I can tell they’ve switched from an awkward drum machine sound to an actual session drummer and it has done huge things for their overall production sound. The songwriting is certainly more focused and what you’ll have to trade in terms of variation is well worth the boon in melody, vibrant production, and the least self-conscious blackgaze record to date that never takes a moment to feign false emotion. It is a long beast of a record to wrestle through but it should appeal broadly to post-metal, atmoblack, blackgaze and post-black fans alike.
|Released||February 16, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Harikiri For The Sky on Facebook|
Dire tides of disorder. 3.75/5.0
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