Harakiri For The Sky

Album Title: 
Release Date: 
Monday, April 21, 2014
Review Type: 

Austrian Harakiri For The Sky (I have to admit that this moniker is pretty original, though probably somewhat silly???) are a young band (formed in winter 2011-2012) that debuted in 2012 with a self-titled full length (also through Germany’s Art Of Propaganda). Pretty soon after, this release got followed by several live shows with bands like Fäulnis, Heretoir or Whiskey Ritual in their home country, yet also in Germany and Italy. And again ‘shortly after’, or what did you expect, the duo (multi-instrumentalist and composer M.S. and vocalist / lyricist J.J.) started working on the sophomore full length.

This second album, entitled Aokigahara (again an album with this title; think Frozen Ocean, Thrall or Sea Of Trees, who came up with the same title for one of their releases; FYI: it is the name of a Japanese forest where a lot of suicides seem to take place, so this band might be the most ‘closely-related’ one because of its moniker???), evidently goes on (or is it: goes further) where the debut ended. It lasts for about seventy (!) minutes (CD-edition); the vinyl-version, by the way, comes with a cover, Mad World by Tears For Fears.

I was not that convinced after Harakiri For The Sky’s debut. There were lot of interesting elements, but I really couldn’t get a grip about it. With this sophomore album I am still not that enthusiastic, but I think Aokigahara is a huge step forward. The duo brings an energetic and power-driven form of Black Metal with a modern approach (sound + song writing), and believe me if I say that this material is much, much more convincing than the debut. The stuff is enormously varied: tempo, atmosphere, performance and structures, as well as the use of additional instrumentation, yet still done with a post-modernistic effectuation. The material is highly melodious and little complex, yet the latter does not mean progressive, yet rather Post-Metal oriented.

There are many elements that I do like about this album, and that weren’t of importance when it came to the untitled debut. I can mention the chilly atmosphere, the massive sound (great production indeed!), the lovely addition of Nordic-styled elements, the variety as mentioned above, the subtle injection of otherly-emotive details, and so on… But in any case (with exception of the vocals; see next paragraph) each single detail did progress in a positive way compared to the past. And it is not just a minor progression I am talking about; Aokigahara is, to my modest opinion, a thousand times more professional, matured and more professional than Harakiri For The Sky, the 2012-debut.

My main problem are the vocals. This kind of hysterical screams rather fit to a Post-Hard/Grindcore band, and it does really annoy and bother me. Once again, that isn’t but a personal opinion, but since I am the reviewer in charge… These vox make it really difficult to appreciate an album this lengthened, but once again a positive note: this time there are less infantile yells and screams. Even these vocals have progressed, and who am I to focus on this detail as being part of a minor element?

You have guessed it… I am extremely pleased by this progression. I do not know that much bands (even though this isn’t ‘but’ a duo) that do evolve so enormously in between two records. It’s always a pleasure to notice that a next record equals or, and that’s what I am referring to, transcends its predecessor, but such evolution is nothing but unheavenly. If I had done the review for the debut (I can’t find it anymore on the site, but I am pretty sure someone of the Concreteweb-tribe was in charge…), I would have granted it with an unsatisfying score (in case this might tell you something about objectivism? - stupid and narrow-minded people we are…)…

Just for fun 1: the album comes with guest vocal performances by e.g. Eklatanz (Heretoir), Seuche (Fäulnis), Torsten (Agrypnie) and Cristiano (Whiskey Ritual).

And another ‘just for fun’, labelled as ‘jff2’: that cover track originally written and performed by Tears For Fears: for once it sounds better than the original, but I’ve said everything with this statement. This material certainly is not a surplus, and because I am pretty stubborn, I am not to finish this phr……