Reviewed: [February 2021]
Released [2021 AOP Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Austrian duo Harakiri For The Sky are the very anti-thesis of black metal minimalism. After their comparatively tidy self-titled full-length in 2012, each subsequent release has been a monumental affair that has stretched out to well over an hour. The band’s fifth album is their most expansive yet.
At 85 minutes, Mӕre offers a double album’s worth of music divvied up into 10 songs that themselves average 8-plus minutes each. It’s a marathon and not a sprint in just about every sense of that cliché. Fortunately, despite its ample width and breadth, the album is not lacking in brisk pacing and aggressive bursts – driven once again by drummer Kerim “Krimh“ Lechner of Septicflesh – though there is plenty of atmosphere and wide open spaces betwixt and between. So what could have been a serious yawn ends up only be a test of one’s endurance.
Offering something of a “post” take on black metal, the band deliver cascades of riffs instead of a mere hail of flighty trems – which also bob and weave their way into the mix with some regularity – spacious, dramatic arrangements and the husky, cathartic wail and soul-baring lyrics of frontman J.J. “Cinematic” might be actually a more accurate description of the music, here, given the sheer scale and scope – not to mention the film-length run time.
The music plays out more like a series of movements or scenes, since there is little or no verse-chorus-verse construction, save for perhaps “Silver Needle // Golden Dawn” or the cover of Placebo’s “Song To Say Goodbye” that closes the album. There are certainly hooky moments, majestic sweeps and captivating melodies, notably on “Three Empty Words” and “And Oceans Between Us,” that offer something to latch onto, but you’re probably not going to find yourself humming tunes from Mӕre absent-mindedly to yourself during yet another interminable Microsoft Teams meeting.
But that’s not necessarily a complaint. The album still has a way of sucking you in, especially if you listen with headphones on to concentrate or isolate the sound, and before you know it an hour and a half is gone, which is certainly not the worst thing after a day of telework drudgery.
And if you’re going to go all in, then go all fucking in. Harakiri For The Sky have certainly done that here, taking advantage of pandemic captivity to wring every ounce out of Mӕre’s material. Yet as hefty and indulgent as it, Mӕre doesn’t really feel bloated or ponderous. Sure some songs could have been truncated or trimmed, but would that have made any significant difference? Other than maybe giving you back 15 minutes, probably not.