Arson by Harakiri For The SkyRelease date: February 16, 2018
Label: AOP Records
I got a bit of a surprise when I first listened to Arson, the fourth album by Harakiri For The Sky. My listening habits on Spotify had convinced the algorithm to continually recommend the band to me and their similar artists on the platform are rich in post and atmospheric black metal. The press release that accompanies the album specifies that the focus of the music features “the dreamy, the picturesque aspect, the melancholy joy of Black Metal and the tension of Post-Rock”. Yet within fifteen seconds of opener ‘Fire, Walk With Me’ it became clear that Arson doesn’t deliver any of that.
That doesn’t mean it is bad, it just isn’t really post anything and the techniques and styles that encapsulate black metal and post-rock are not evident here. What you do get is an album of stripped back, anthemic, chest beating, fist pumping metal with a continuous up-beat urgency. This sounds like a band pushing itself away from ground it has previously covered and it is truly driven there by the addition of a live drummer. Kerim “Krimh” Lechner puts in a powerhouse of a shift throughout; as well as assisting in keeping the music at a high tempo he adds a real depth that was missing on previous releases.
The aforementioned opening track does give a good flavour of the record as a whole. Stretching beyond 9 minutes it is filled with pounding double kick, background keyboard and guitar that jousts between ringing chord progressions and lead fret work that takes you through the vein of the songs. It is a classic metal setup on a modern polished surface with a passionate vocal delivery which is heavy yet clear. Most of the tracks fall between the 8 and 10 minute mark which could sound quite daunting but it is not all slash and burn, there are plenty of tempo changes to keep the listener engaged.
‘You Are The Scars’ offers some moments of reprieve from the pounding onslaught although there is a mix of fast and slow on a number of songs whilst still remaining heavy. ‘Herion Waltz’ is another that leaves an overriding sense of being down tempo even though it contains some of the only blast beats on the album. The guitar rings out in a more subdued manner during this track with less of a driven lead guitar line. If the band does slow the tempo, you can be sure that it will pick up again and it is in these moments the drumming really comes to the fore.
Whilst programmable drums have their advantages there is no replacing the real life interaction of a drummer. Even if the tracks here are quite formulaic in their peaks and troughs the different drumming patterns during the breakdown and driven sections breathe a different life to each song. With programmed drums I imagine this album would have become tiresome very quickly.
Arson made a decent enough recovery from the high billing it received and I am sure it would translate well during the summer festival season but it certainly doesn’t fulfil any of the promises the record label suggests. While that is not the fault of the band, it may cause quite a few listeners to skip by the release after only a brief listen. Those who do delve in are sure to enjoy the ride.