Austrian duo HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY’s been at it for a decade as of 2021, and it shows. Over this time, Messrs. M.S. (Instruments) and J.J. (Vocals) crafted a space for themselves with their first three albums, moving – I feel – truly into something of their own with 2018’s Arson, a true benchmark, which could’ve seen the band take any one of a few divergent paths, and do so credibly, turning HFTS into something “other” than it was at its birthing.

From the opening tones of ‘I, Pallbearer’, one can feel something of the cinematic, the first minute or so almost tempting us to imagine opening credits rolling. Soon, though (and too soon, to these ears), we’re rent out of our lull with abrasion, and I can’t escape the subconscious tug that, as a first song, it just doesn’t measure up to what one would’ve expected from HFTS. Featuring the ethereal intonations of ALCEST’s Neige alongside J.J.’s hectic howl, ‘Sing For The Damage We’ve Done’ grooves at times, more straightforward in execution, but the blend is heady, and herein lies some of the fastest, most syncopated drumming to be heard from session skinsman, Krimh, outside of his “day job” in SEPTICFLESH.

‘I’m All About The Dusk’ rolls into view as its namesake, slow and biding its time, and it’s at this point of Maere when HFTS finds itself, moving from lumber to lashing, yet smoothly so, everything slip-sliding, almost oozing into place. Boasting an appearance from the voice of GAEREA, ‘Silver Needle // Golden Dawn’ could, in spots, fit on a SENTENCED album, but there are subtle goth-rock underpinnings ala MISSION UK with the guitars that can’t be ignored, nor should they be.

Ending with the strange choice of covers that is ‘Song To Say Goodbye’, originally by Brit-rockers PLACEBO, as the last notes fade, I’m left with the feeling that, at the benchmark that was Arson, instead of choosing a path, HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY has, with Maere, decided to sit down and rest. Though, with repeated listens, it may be a grower, I’m simply unsure.
Review By: Lord Randall

AOP Records
2.5 / 6