In 2016 Venom Prison took the death metal world by storm with their excellent debut Animus. They demonstrated that death metal and hardcore can be combined in such a way that doesn’t dissolve into endless stuttering break downs, propped up with sub drops to make them sound heavier. Why am I talking about Venom Prison in a review of the new Harms Way album?
Harm’s Way have reversed the Venom Prison formula. Where Venom Prison sound like a hardcore band playing death metal, Harms Way sound like a death metal band playing hardcore. The core of their sound is hardcore but with the occasional death metal flourish, such as on the tracks Sink and Unreality. I’ve said before that hardcore is an incredibly diverse genre, so I feel it’s necessary to expand on what sort of hardcore Harms Way bring to the table. This sounds a lot like Hatebreed at their most aggressive dressed up in a much thicker, and heavier, production. Of course, the sound of a band means nothing if it’s not executed well, but Harms Way deliver quality in spades, making this album thrilling when it’s blasting along aggressively.
It is however the less out right aggressive moments on this album that really stand out. The slow atmospheric crescendo of Temptation produces a sense of tension and suspense. It brings to mind Code Orange’s more atmospheric tracks from Forever, though I don’t think it comes close to the quality. What makes Temptation such a good track is that just when the tension is about to become tedium the band crash in with a ridiculously heavy break down, which is enhanced by the slower more atmospheric approach of the rest of the track. My only real criticism of the track is that I wish there was a mosh call before the break down kicked in. That’s only because I’m a sucker for a mosh call and doesn’t really hinder my enjoyment.
Sinister track The Gift also recalls Code Orange, with its mechanical, industrial electronics seeping through. It becomes truly hellish when the vocals start screaming in time with cacophonous drum beats. While The Gift could have been an excellent end to Posthuman, I think following it with the intensely aggressive Dead Space is perfect. It’s one last shotgun blast to the face for an album full of intensely angry music. Dead Space sums up the core appeal of the album, and everything else is just extra icing on the cake. I will say I’d like more integration of the more experimental passages with the brutish slabs of hardcore, but there is always next time out.
In Posthuman, Harm’s Way have delivered an excellent hardcore album during a period of many great hardcore releases from around the globe. Harm’s Way are never going to be mainstream darlings, but it’s clear they don’t want to be. They just want to put out great, aggressive, experimental heavy music and that’s fine by me.
Highlights: Sink, Temptation, The Gift, Dead Space
Posthuman is out 9th February via Metalblade. You can order the album here.
Harm’s Way can be found here: