Rating:
8.5
Harakiri For The Sky - Aokigahara
21 April 2014


01. My Bones To The Sea
02. Jhator [feat. Seuche]
03. Homecoming: Denied!
04. 69 Dead Birds For Utøya [feat. Plague]
05. Parting
06. Burning From Both Ends [feat. Torsten]
07. Panoptycon [feat. Eklatanz]
08. Nailgarden
09. Gallows (Give 'Em Rope)
10. Mad World [Tears For Fears cover] [vinyl bonus]


A relatively new metal movement has taken me aback, leading me down an exhilarating, spiral path of emotionally charged and blissfully saturated musical sensibility. The blackgaze concept is a combination of black metal axioms with more dreamy and mellow textures and Harakiri For The Sky, a two-piece outfit from Vienna, Austria, have nailed it.

The usual characteristics of blackgaze/shoegaze/post-black (yes I lump them together as one, because to me, there really aren't many different musical traits that separate the three) are well represented in Aokigahara. Tremolo-picked riffs create an ethereal wall of sound, rapid blastbeats and shrieking vocals interchange with slower sections - often without warning - and the air of melancholy floats through the entire entity. The songs are very meaningful, and I found myself bobbing my head up and down in agreement with the comprehensive movement and motion of the themes.

There isn't any clean singing on the album, but to add some variance, Harakiri For The Sky asked some of their friends for help. Aokigahara contains guest vocals from other noteworthy black metal musicians such as Torsten (Agrypnie), Eklatanz (Heretoir), Seuche (Fäulnis), and Cristiano (Whiskey Ritual). These voices help by adding a bit of diversity to the light song structures.

Over an hour long, the album does drag a bit towards the end, but this little blip on the radar cannot take away the warm and fuzzy feelings I get when I listen to this album. The analog and low-fidelity production values found in this record - and most blackgaze music - emit a certain charm. I often wonder if it is done on purpose. A "woe is me" agitation, the recording sounds like a low-budget project that was recorded at home in a basement. It's a neat little gimmick and it works masterfully by adding bleakness and anguish to the inclusive presentation.

With this sophomore release, Harakiri For The Sky have created a dense landscape oozing with cross-grained tenacity and melodies as striking as this genre has ever seen. They have managed a unique and totally viable apex of work. Harakiri For The Sky are well on their way to hanging out with the heavyweights in the blackgaze arena, such as Deafheaven, An Autumn For Crippled Children and Woods Of Desolation. This is an illustrious exercise, one that should be listened to for its sheer passion and profound atmosphere.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Band profile: Harakiri For The Sky
Album: Aokigahara


 



Written on 28.07.2014 by
tea[m]ster
Be gentle, I never said I was any good at this!
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Boxcar Willy - 28.07.2014 at 15:47  
I found this extremely average, and the production didn't suit the album in my opinion.


A weak 6 from me.
musclassia - 28.07.2014 at 21:16  
I liked the album quite a lot, but I felt it got a bit more 'gaze-y' and Alcest-like on the latter half of the album, whilst I got a slight Woods of Desolation feel in the first half (mainly because I don't have much experience in the genre and don't really know what bands are more appropriate reference points). I preferred the first half even though I enjoyed it pretty much throughout, and I feel like the strongest track by quite some way is Homecoming: Denied - I just preferred the more morose depressive BM feel at the beginning compared to the more uplifting-sounding tremolo&blasts later on, even though I digged them more than I usually manage with BBs. Still, I definitely think it's an 8.

However, the Mad World cover made me laugh more than anything - the way they used guitars to replicate the vocal line reminded me of when they have cheesy-sounding keyboards playing the vocal line on play-along online song tabs.

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