Harakiri For The Sky
Mære

I’m embarrassed to say I’m new to this Austrian atmospheric/post-black metal duo and their 4 prior albums, despite some familiarity with their previous band, Viking/Pagan themed black metal act, Bifrost. It appears to be a criminal oversight on my part, as I delved into the band’s back catalog to prepare for this review and the duo and discovered 4 albums of brilliant, atmospheric/post-black metal that is right up my alley as far as mixing melancholic melody and blackened fury with heaps of lengthy, patient, post-black/shoegaze/blackgaze atmospherics.

And so album number five continues the trend, being a bit less black and hateful/shrieky and a little more shouty, post-metal patience. But certainly,  the duo’s infatuation with 10 minute or so long songs (often a bit of a drag) is offset with the superb ability to meld shimmery post-metal with artfully melodic but despondent black metal melodies and crescendoes is something to behold.

At well over an hour, spanning 2 CDs or LPs, covering every single note is a tall order, but personally, when the duo locks into one of the many more brittle, seething 6/8 black metal riffs I’m reminded a little of Vallendusk, as they have the same simply perfect grasp of somber but scathing melodies. And when they find that sweet spot it is absolutely stunning. Now, there is quite a bit of filler between those moments, lots of slow-burning builds, piano and acoustic ebbs and flows, but the payoff is more than worth it.

The opening trifecta of “I, Pallbearer”, “Sing for the Damage We’ve Done” (featuring Neige of Alcest– a ballpark stylistic comparison for those needing it),  and “Us Against December Skies” all thankfully get to the good stuff early making for the 7 and eight-minute songs hold your attention, respectively, with some simply killer, harmonic black metal riffs. Then there is a little more focus on delicate, patient,  post-metal structures for the 11 minute “I’m All About the Dusk”.

Another 10-minute song, “Three Empty Words” comes right out of the gate with some urgent, angry blasting that you might hear on a Svalbard album, another comparison I think is valid at times. Then there is a bit of a lull on the album with “Once Upon a Winter”, “An Ocean Between Us” and “Silver Needle//Golden Dawn”,  all in the 7  to 10-minute range, and I’m not sure if the album is just starting to drag on and repeat a bit or listener exhaustion, but I’m starting to think about other things, even though “Once Upon a Winter” has an excellent, furious closeout and “Silver Needle//Golden Dawn” has some nice mid-song moments.

Luckily, the penultimate track “Time as a Ghost” (the track I heard first that got me go ahead and check the band out) ends the album (cover of Placebo’s “Song to Say Goodbye” notwithstanding), with one of my favorite album’s standouts, having one of the album’s better melodic jaunts/riffs that gets me riled up every time I hear it.

Mære is an excellent album, from a band that has locked into a pretty specific sound for a couple of albums now, and while some of the fat could be trimmed, it’s still a superb, ambitious album that could be in my year-end list due to the sheer number of excellent moments that make the fat worth it. And I for one am glad I’ve finally discovered this excellent duo and their killer back discography.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
February 15th, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: F.Rini

    Erik. This is a great review. I think you covered their sound perfectly.


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