Harakiri For The Sky – Mære

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There are bands that come into your life and your and before you even realize it, they become one of your favorites. One such case for me is Harakiri For The Sky, from the first moment I heard them in 2014. That is, when they released their second album, “Aokigahara”.

So, three years after the amazing “Arson”, which not only topped the list of my favorites of 2018 but easily entered the best of the last decade, the Austrian duo returns with their fifth full-length album “Mære”. The name refers to a vicious entity that is believed to sit on the chests of sleeping people, causing them breathlessness and anxiety.

Now, what HFTS did here is impressive. The reason? The album lasts almost an hour and a half! And I may constantly moan about releases that make me tired when they are over forty minutes but here, no matter how many times I heard it, I did not even realize how the time had passed. Its flow is excellent and the songs are not lengthy for no reason as they reward the listener with many special moments. It is not at all easy to achieve such a thing.

Remaining of course in their well-known style that we love, “Mære” is unstoppable. Okay, it may not have the catchy refrains of “Fire, Walk With Me” and “You Are The Scars” from “Arson” but that does not mean less about its quality. Matthias Solak does a terrific job with back-to-back riffs which are either aggressive or with this terrific melancholy/melody that is a trademark of the band. On top of all this, the special vocals of Michael V. Wahntraum, who screams lyrics about depression in a cathartic way. Vocals that you either love or hate. I clearly belong to the first category.

Behind the drum kit we meet for the second consecutive album their countryman Karim “Krimh” Lechner, known also as a permanent member of Septicflesh, who destroys everything in his path with relentless drumming. Stéphane “Neige” Paut of Alcest does guest vocals in one song as well as a member of the Portuguese blacksters Gaerea (who are still anonymous) in another. The participation of Audrey Sylvain (ex-Amesoeurs, ex-Neige Morte) was deleted from the album when fans of their band reminded them that the French singer supports extreme right-wing and racist ideologies while she has also participated in NSBM bands. Personally, I believe that this was a great decision from them. Well done guys.

With each song lasting seven minutes or more (except for the cover at the end), I repeat that it is amazing how “Mære” make me feel tired or bored did. Well, maybe in “Once Upon A Winter” which for me is probably the least interesting song they have ever written. Otherwise, the highlights are the opening “I, Pallbearer” with the wonderful keyboards towards the end, the fantastic “Sing For The Damage We’ve Done” with Neige, “Us Against December Skies” and “An Ocean Between Us” whose melodies are gripping. Finally, continuing the tradition of choosing unusual songs to cover, here we will listen to their amazing version of “Song To Say Goodbye”, originally by Placebo.

In conclusion, in “Mære” we hear aggression from devastating black metal in combination with shocking post melodies and atmospheres. This is the special style of Harakiri For The Sky and once again they make sure to deliver what we ask. Personally, I could not ask for a better beginning in the new year in terms of new releases.