I wonder if Michael "Jimbo Jones" V. Wahntraum (vocals) and Matthias Sollak (all instruments) who comprise the Austrian progressive black/post metal duo realize how much their art substitutes anti-depressants, how much empathy they unleash and induce with "Aokigahara" (2014) or "III: Trauma" (2016) and now "Mære". While I have never heard the debut eponymous (2012) or "Arson" (2018), this here, "Mære" is like its namesake – a malicious folkloristic entity creeping on sleeping people’s chest during the night and causing breathlessness and anxiety leaving one in a state of diffuse terror and paralysis, to borrow from the promo, but all that on top of utter bliss, with music that is like a balm for a tortured soul, with just one tiny flaw: not all of it is absolutely amazing.

If I may point to one difference between Harakiri From The Sky (HFTS) 2021 and the past is that when it is melodic and sweet it really takes its time to bathe as in the KATATONIAn and PARADISically LOST favorite cut "Once Upon A Winter" or the IN MOURNINGly OPETHian "Us Against December Skies", but when it is black metal is furiously so although still pretty catchy and melodic as in the INSOMNIUMic "Sing For The Damage We’ve Done" where ALCEST’s mastermind Stéphane "Neige" Paut gives a notable vocal performance. These guys are Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt level musicians and songwriters, if not better, considering OPETH’s departure from brutal melody. If there needs to be one album name drop here to encompass the wonderful constant melodic ebb and flow it would have to be INSOMNIUM’s "Across The Dark", especially the otherwise AMON AMARTHian "Time Is A Ghost" recalling "Into The Woods". And it’s really impossible to be bored here, the minute you think you’re getting there, there’s a progression, a transition, an exclusively acoustic piece or, on the contrary, a black metal blastbeat Buries you In Oblivion (if you catch my drift). Sure, some tracks are long and they do demand your absolute attention but isn’t immersion the point of music in the first place?

One flaw I mentioned earlier is that not all the tracks are absolutely amazing and so the opener "I, Pallbearer", "And Oceans Between Us" (not mærely coincidental with AS I LAY DYING’s 4th album) and "Silver Needle // Golden Dawn" (featuring an unknown GAREA member cameo), while still masterfully constructed and engagingly excellent, don’t strike me as much as the rest. Also I question the need for a (Placebo) cover on an already over an hour album of demanding at times extreme metal music, although, I have to admit that it fits like a glove, sounds like a HFTS song, perhaps more melancholic and less aggressive compared to the original 9 tracks, yet is still more aggressive and more interesting than the original "Song To Say Goodbye", none of which merits more than a 0.5 point deduction.

If there’s one album you need now, my melodic metal friend, is Harakiri’s For The Sky "Mære". If you don’t like it I owe you a beer, unless, of course, you’re a recovering alcoholic in which case please accept both my apologies and sympathy.