Chicago powerviolence outfit turned metalcore masters deliver more heavy.
Truly, Harm's Way really is the embodiment of the Darwinian principle of music - survival of the heaviest.
The fun thing about the new Harm's Way album is self-improvement. The band has been up and down over their last couple of efforts. While 2011's Isolation was a brutal masterpiece, their subsequent effort, the Blinded EP released by Deathwish in 2013, was flat. At least, I don't recall ever going back to listen to it. Rust, released in 2015, stands as the bands most recent work recorded. It's been three years.
The time off has produced one hell of an album.
There was some talk of industrial elements and other facets of a very non-traditional sound on this release. Some of the talk seems true, most of it feels like hyperbole. What Harm's Way presents on their Metal Blade Records debut is arguably a more driving sound than what they had previously put forward, at least for the past several years.
The album starts out at a blisteringly heavy pace and doesn't let up until the album reaches the fourth track. There's a nice mix of all things metalcore presented in these songs. The straight-forward, death metal inspired attack of riffs on riffs over double-bass pounding. A sprinkle of grove and time signature jumbling for those of you who feel inclined to move in your spirit.
"Temptation," track four, really does stand out as something interesting. It's the first time that the album veers away from the in your face heavy for a moment. It's done right. There's definitely something that sits just right about how they broke up the album and also in how they wrote these songs. This song really does a great job of summing up the band's delivery and follow through.
It doesn't let you down.
That's the most impressive thing about the new album. The band has returned to their best form on Posthuman. They can't be ignored and your brain won't want to shut off after one or two songs.
One band that may not have been an influence, but had some very similar things going on in their work is Eighteen Visions. No, I'm not talking about the new 18 V or the Obsession version. While a lot of bands can sound similar, there are more than a few things on Posthuman that sound like stuff I loved about Until the Ink Runs Out. A lot of rhythms and tones splash out as a similar and I don't think it is ever more true than on the track "Become a Machine."
The album eventually starts to feel like a full-length, and that presents the listener with the challenge of staying full engaged. Fortunately, even the tracks that eventually start to feel a little less like stand outs have enough going on that you find something great in every track. Both "Unreality" and "Dissect Me" risk falling into the listener fatigue category, but it feels like the band understands this and understands more about writing their songs in such a way that they don't have to completely blow the doors off for one massive moshfest of a song only to find themselves filling out the rest of the album with standard sounds.
The real strength of Posthuman is in the band's ability to make sure that every track has at least one or two things that you want to keep listening to even if you're starting to feel tempted to hit the next track button. Even when it doesn't come off in a particularly fantastic way, they're still keeping it interesting as evidenced by the industrial vibe of "The Gift," the sets the table for the album's closer, "Dead Space."
I have no problem saying that this album is easily the best thing we've heard from Harm's Way dating back to Isolation. Now, put this album on and go deadlift something.
by Daniel Coughlin