Austrian duo Harakiri For The Sky have spent the last decade establishing themselves as one of the cooler names to drop as the post-black metal boom has swelled to critical mass. Their melding of ethereal, expansive melodies and harsh, frosty riffs almost felt zeitgeisty a few years back, so, as they unveil their fifth album, Mære, hearing what evolutionary steps they take feels genuinely intriguing.
Ultimately, what we get is more of a refinement and continuation of the sound they’ve been crafting, although that’s not to say there aren’t a few surprises along the way, and with the quality at an impressively high standard. After a decent opening, the second track, Sing For The Damage We’ve Done, is a fantastic statement of intent and sets the bar for the rest of the record. Full of expertly crafted riffs, some tornado-like rhythmical drums shifts and passages of delicate, but majestically beautiful, sedate moments, it’s a wonderful song.
To its credit the album does hit those highs with impressive regularity, namely the epic 11-minute journey of I’m All About The Dusk and Silver Needle – Golden Dawn’s plaintive piano turned blastbeat tsunami of noise, but the main problem with Mære is that, despite never dropping its standards so low that you’re turned off, the 85-minute-long running time is exhausting. To spend this long in the company of one band they need to mix up the dynamics even further than Harakiri For The Sky do here; about an hour in and you’ve seen the magician pull the same trick a few too many times for it to wow you again.
A closing cover of Placebo’s Song To Say Goodbye does bring a different, much-needed, flavour to the record in the form of a little alt-rock catchiness and some post-punk drums. This could have been a fantastic album, but with listener fatigue factored in, this makes Mære just a very good one.