Harakiri For The Sky prove again why their sound is an important one in the metal world with Arson.Read More
Post-Metal is an extensive genre. There's something intrinsically beautiful and provocative about it. It's expansive and huge, and takes its listeners somewhere new, like reading a highly engaging sci-fi book about new worlds. Russian Circles is a prime example of this. Their new record Guidance is the most realized their sound has ever been within their decade-long career. It's a masterful crafting of performances that builds such an awe-inspiring visual for its listener, it's hard to not be blown away.
This album is everything post-metal should be. It's entirely instrumental too, leaving the instruments to do the talking and give meaning to the music. The soul of each track is very evident, almost tangible. Opening track 'Asa' provides for an introspective introduction to the record, a very soothing beginning that lets you reflect - it's already great that the album can have this effect so early on. It transitions into 'Vorel', which comes rumbling in with fantastic drumming from Dave Turncrantz segueing into evil-sounding guitars. The song develops with a thick and crunchy bassline from Brian Cook, which paired with the pounding toms and distorted guitars sounds epic. Crunchy basslines are a major part of 'Afrika' as well, the complimenting drum rolls that pair with it before the massive guitars kick in during the bridge (which has a weird cutout moment that interrupts the pace a bit) making the track immense. The song progresses from being a dark monster to an uplifting and hopeful call-to-arms by the end, concluding with a sweet little guitar melody. 'Overboard' follows up with the same sweet spacious guitar that concluded 'Afrika' before 'Cella' returns to the big heavy riffs and hits that feel like punches to the face.
There's almost a narrative going on within this album. Perhaps Guidance goes deeper than an entrancing listen. The album cover looks to be a shot of an unstable African society amidst a crisis... Which gives credit to the track title of 'Afrika'. The concluding track on the album is the sweet, giant buildup 'Lisboa', another location that has history of political unrest. Listening to the music, there is a sense of disorder within it. The narrative of war can be found through the album; 'Asa' is the calm before the storm, almost a reflection of a soldier or a time before a society was thrown into war. 'Vorel' follows through with the violence building up, growing in waves (as is with the rolling drums) before war becomes inevitable. 'Mota' has a hopeful sound with great guitar work, the hope of bystanders of the violence. The song becomes tense at the end, to portray that it is becoming evident that the conflict will not end easily. 'Afrika' perhaps plays to the violence of African conflicts, such as the Rwandan genocide. It's thick and unrelenting guitar plays a key role in setting the scene. It's soft reprise acts as an outlook for the future - a hopeful one.
The narrative isn't obvious, and perhaps unintended, but it does give Guidance some more dimension. Russian Circles created a truly immersive post-metal album. Guidance flows and ebbs with intensity and flows seamlessly from track to track, providing for a story to unfold as each note is hit. It's a masterful performance and a truly powerful album. Post-Metal at it's finest.
Favorite Tracks: Vorel, Lisboa, Afrika
Least Favorite Track: Overboard
Rating: 86 / 100
Most people will see black metal as something satanic or not of this world. This is only partially true of Harakiri From The Sky. They don't dabble with the sounds of Hell; rather, they choose to explore the mind and its emotions instead. III: Trauma is their newest release, and it goes further and bites harder than any of its predecessors.
Going into Trauma, you expect something dark and for something nasty to develop within your throat as it progresses. That's what black metal would typically do to you. But no, Harakiri For The Sky takes a different direction. There's something pure in their music; it's not the heaviness that speaks for it. Rather, the melodies seem to do that for them. III: Trauma is not an album meant to be jammed to (though, that is very much a thing you can do). It's an album that wants your understanding and focus - and trust me, you'll need it.
All expectations are lost straight from the start, replacing them with a morbid curiosity instead. The eleven-minute epic 'Calling The Rain' begins the sweltering album, piano chords and reverberating guitar being this albums entrance. Instead of dropping those elements in favor of a low-tuned chugging, powerchords kick in in order to expand upon the ideas developing from the start. The lead guitar soars above the thriving instrumental as if to search for something before tortured vocals enter the scene, the angered and lost disposition of the voice contrasting the hopeful instrumental. This song itself is a journey; by its end it feels like you've been hit by enough thought to have listened to an entire album already. It goes through cycles, heavy ones full of rage and others begging for hope. The vocals and instrumental are constantly fighting each other in some sort of dark, graceful dance that begs for an answer. It's gentle conclusion finds itself experiencing an aftermath, one final blast taking the song to its end.
After that's over, it's time for the second song. Every track on this record is a lengthy one, the shortest clocking in at eight and a half minutes ('The Traces We Leave'). Often times, bands who take these long roads lose themselves in complex turns and systems that ultimately makes the song lose its light. Everything on this record feels justified in its length, though. Each song is its own story, its own exploration of a concept that delves within your own psyche to bring out a very warming closeness. There are big riffs to give the listener moments to jam - see 'This Life As A Dagger' especially - but this album is much more than that.
This album feels almost like an alternative rock record in terms of its understanding of heaviness and structure. Take 'Funeral Dreams' as an example, though each song exhibits it. It isn't driven by a need for galloping riffs to make itself sound big; each song is cavernous with a clear respect to spaciousness. Every element of the song comes together to create massive atmosphere that builds and builds into one collective body. The riffs don't even feel as down-your-throat due to low tuning. The mixing compliments the high-end more so than the low-end (which also isn't tuned down to the depths of Hell). This album channels melody over thrill, and emotion over just rage. The instrumentals help inspire your mind as to what you should be feeling - 'Thanatos' begins with an ethereal intro that makes you feel like you're drowning, while the epic percussion and powerful feeling of 'Dry The River' gives you hope.
Harakiri From The Sky seems to understand what metal should be about. III: Trauma is not your every day black metal album. It is post-metal at its finest. It explores surreal and deep parts of the human emotions, and seeks to find closure within them through the music. It's a long record but a revealing one. It's an essential for any metal fan, and one that cannot be skipped for any fan of music. It's a brilliant emotional journey that has you think and feel - there's nothing more important that music can do for you.
Favorite Tracks: Calling The Rain, Funeral Dreams, Dry The River
Least Favorite Track: The Traces We Leave
Rating: 88 / 100