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Harakiri for the Sky was started in 2011 in Vienna, Austria, by Matthias Sollak (“M.S.”) as a studio project, who quickly added vocalist Michael “J.J.” Wahntraum to the fold. This Austrian black metal duo created their third offering that promises to add to their aspiring catalogue of now 3 albums. The writing, production, and instruments are the works of M.S., and J.J. remains at helm of all vocals. Mastering and mixing completed by Daniel Fellner. The band has a full lineup secured for tours, but the main group leaders consist of just J.J. and M.S.

Black metal has always been a mixed bag with me personally. With every fantastical brilliance found within Winterhorde’s and Old Man’s Child’s collective works, you have the lesser works like Vondur (yes, I went there) or Hecate Enthroned, that seriously dilute the entire genre. Much like any genre of metal, you take your lumps with your injections of ecstasy. Seems that when I hear of a chummer that enjoys black metal, they tend to mention Cradle of Filth being their favorite band. Man, the metal snob in me just wants to shake them until the crappy radio edits of garbage metal falls from their brain pockets!

With all of that being said, I was pleasantly surprised when I gave Harakiri the first ever listen! A 75-minute runtime, with not one track under the 8-minute mark, makes listening to ‘III: Trauma’ a serious investment of time. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a flaw by any means, but one will have to go into a different frame of mind when ‘experiencing’ an album like this. The guitar work found in this offering is quite impressive. The harmonies and endless transitions from song to song allows one to get fully immersed in this world of torment and fatigue. A shining example of this is found in the opening track, ‘Calling the Rain’, with Sollak’s superb riffs on guitar. While not overly complex, they come across as incredibly intellectual with a pacing that never leaves you feeling bored or lost.

Every track blends so well with the next track that you almost feel like you’re in a scene from a movie or a chapter in a book that you cannot put down. There are a few killer tracks that jump out a bit more than others, but I haven’t been able to stop listening once I start. There are no “just one song” tracks to find here. You get hooked fairly easily! With that, I should mention a few of the best listening experiences from ‘Trauma’. ‘Thanatos’ has some of the more brilliant transitions from verse to verse from recent memory. ‘The Traces We Leave’ starts off with such an unsettling intro that quickly dashes your hopes, with nightmarish vocals capping off a wondrous event. ‘Viaticum’ is near the top of my favorites with such a change of style from beginning to end. It seems like they picked up the pace with this one and it really breathes energy into the whole album!

Overall, ‘Trauma’ is a shining example of how post-black metal should be done. Its compelling songwriting and spectacular guitars, mixed with mutilated vocals and well written vocals, should be an automatic listen for any metalhead. An album that truly encapsulates how far the genre has come.
Art of Propaganda
Review by Joshua Jaeger
22nd July 2016
1) Calling the Rain
2) Funeral Dreams
3) Thanatos
4) This Life as a Dagger
5) The Traces We Leave
6) Viaticum
7) Dry the River
8) Bury Me
"An album that truly encapsulates how far the genre has come."