When I received this album to review it snowed here in the UK, a fresh blanket of snow coated much of the country. I sat at my desk, hot coffee in hand and pressed play on the first track. The first track played, then the second and I pressed pause. Fate had conspired to provide weather that seemed somewhat tonally apt. I drank my coffee, put on my boots and grabbed my best pair of headphones and headed out into the world. I was going to submerge myself in this work in the best way I could.
Mӕre is the fifth release by Austrian band HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY. The album is named after the creature from which we get the word nightmare. It sits on your chest as you lay in bed and instils fear and breathlessness. Surrounded by fog and snow, the album definitely achieves much of the same with its raw post-black metal and doom sound.
The album opens with I, Pallbearer which definitely brings the atmosphere to this release. Choosing to start with a slow build, it gives you a moment to breathe before the more aggressive instrumentation begins. This, I think, was particularly wise. The slower introduction teases and eases the melody into your ears like pouring hot wax into a rubber mould. It feels its way around pushing the boundaries of where it’s allowed to rest before it sets and the end becomes plain.
For the second track, Sing For The Damage We’ve Done, they bring in Neige of ALCEST. He uses his signature ethereal sound which provides crucial contrast to the more oppressive sounding music. In many ways, this song is a microcosm of the album with it featuring a little of every element that is expanded on elsewhere. For example, the ethereal parts here are mirrored in the latter half of the following track Us Against December Skies which gently sways like a tree in the wind and the subtlety of the final track, Song To Say Goodbye which ticks away like a clock and fades like falling leaves.
I’m astounded time and time again by the skill of some musicians. To manipulate notes, tones, sounds, words and all the musical ephemera to create a tone that is perfect. I don’t feel sad when I listen to this, I feel claustrophobic to some degree but also catharsis. I feel a release and a bond that would be hard to convey without music like this in the world.
Despite the roots of the genre, I wouldn’t consider this to be a heavy album. Sure there’s tremolo picks, harsh vocals, fast drumming etc. But tonally, it’s different. I don’t want to jump into a mosh pit nor does it feel me with the desire to do much of anything except maybe run or sit in quiet contemplation.
Perhaps it’s just when this album hit that makes me admire it so much but I think that would be an unfair assessment. This is an album that invites you to stare into the middle distance and makes you comfortable for the duration.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Mӕre is out now.
Find HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY on Facebook.