Harakiri For The Sky - Arson - (9/10)
Published on April 13, 2018
A great night for a fire.
Despite being around for the better part of seven years, it took me until 2016 to discover Harakiri For The Sky. That album, their third, took me by some major surprise, and the mix of aggression and the more melodic tones were gripping, while the technical guitar work was memorable and jaw dropping time and again. Two years later, the band released their fourth record, Arson, via Art Of Propaganda. Much of the signature Harakiri sound is still well in place, and while the band improves on their overall approach, much of this new album rings similar to the last. However, that is in no way a negative, as this album has quickly become a repeated listen for me.
From the opening tremolo picked intro, you can tell that the band is employing much of the same tactics they used before. After all, why change what has worked well for them before? Once the rest of the band kicks into gear, the album never really lets up. The underlying lead guitar work that runs through this album is wonderful. Melodic but also memorable, the leads on Arson provide a great bit of groove and just allow the songs to expand further than a lot of their contemporaries in the genre. It is impressive how constant and technical the lead work is, but that should not take away from the rhythm section by any means either.
The actual riffs at play throughout these 70+ minutes are equally memorable and full of headbanging glory. Each track does a great job if setting itself apart from the last, while still maintaining the sound and overall tone the band is going for. Considering the length of these songs, it is important to not fall into the realm of repetition, and the band knows exactly when to change the riffs, or just let the songs breath a bit more with piano or what have you. The other instruments work wonderfully along side the guitars too of course, with the drumming being generally the glue holding everything together, and being able to change pace at a moment’s notice, while still being incredibly tight and adding in a ton of fills to up the ante a bit. The bass work is, as with a lot of metal, maybe not a focal point of the music, but there is a perfectly nuanced performance that really brings everything else home. The album would truly be missing a major component if not for that deep end giving the listener the perfect rumble in their ears.
While there is some variation in the vocal department, the vocals do tend to be much the same throughout. The barks being employed by J.J fit the album very well, but feel a little more buried in the mix compared to the last effort. This is not a bad thing however, as they add a nice layer to the music, and having them mixed lower adds to the overall sound. Nothing feels as if it is competing with any other element of the music, and when we do get a more clean vocal or a different tone or pitch of scream, it feels fresh and keeps the tracks moving along very nicely.
While the songs on the album have a very post rock vibe to them, being a bit more melodic and expansive than an outright assault of black metal, each tracks seems to combine the two genres very well. There are of course the more intense moments on the record, but the slower sections, or longer instrumental areas of the release allow each song to breath slightly and helps each progression of the track feel natural. Luckily, even with the length of the album, it feels like it rushed by in no time given the overall song writing and structure. There is a tightness to the playing and writing that really pushes Arson to the next level. Even the bonus track, “Manifesto”, brings in some different elements (such as clean female vocals and more straightforward structure) and makes for a wonderful way to end the album. The deluxe edition is certainly worth seeking out for this bonus, and even though it may only be a cover, it fits the overall album and showcases another side of Harakiri For The Sky.
Arson came in February of 2018, but in my mind will have no issue still being in heavy rotation come the year’s end. While not drastically different than the prior work the band may have done, everything just feels more seasoned and tied together. The technicality has not waned, and the songwriting feels tighter and more thought out. While the vocals offer the least in the way of intrigue, the performance is still incredibly strong, and worth coming back for. Perhaps it’s the influx of hardcore in my rotation lately, but this album felt fresh and the longer songs can come across to some as daunting or just unneeded, but Harakiri For The Sky make each minute count, and provide a memorable and impressive listen. 2018 has started out pretty strong and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon, but thus far, Arson is near the top of the list for albums that have grabbed me this year.