Harm’s Way – Isolation

Harm's Way – Isolation

Harm's Way – Isolation

Listening to the new album from Chicago metal hardcore band Harm’s Way is a challenge, a testing journey through the hardest of sonic assaults but also in many ways one of the most rewarding. Following up from their No Gods No Masters 7″ EP of 2010, the trio released full length album Isolation via New York hardcore label Closed Casket Activities on July 5th. With a withering intensity and destructive hardcore power fueled by the deepest venom, it is an immense package of riffs, noise and under the bludgeoning attack, creativity.

Isolation consists of eight sense sapping aggressive tracks that emerge from a fusion of grindcore, hardcore punk and metal core. However, that only gives the band’s core sound and for every band like Brutal Truth, Agnostic Front or Sepultura that one may hear in the music there is an element of Fear Factory, Tombs or Killing Joke even deeper. Get past the wall of aggravated noise and there are some extra delights in the layers of music from Harm’s Way.

From the opening maelstrom of beats and scuzzy noise of “Scrambled” the album becomes a living beast from sound alone. To be honest, one could just as easily listen to and in some ways prefer listening to the music alone, with the metal riffs and distinct multiple changes and breakdowns during songs being extremely enjoyable. The vocals create another dimension with their growls and gravelly shouts, adding another twist that overall compliments the creativity in sound.

Though there is a strong consistency throughout the release “Breeding Grounds” and “New Beginnings” are two tracks that emerge shoulders above the others. On each, the driving, menacing drums excel as harsh dripping bass riffs pound the ear – with the intense and incessant guitars and chant vocals they are a welcoming colossal intrusion of the senses.

The album was recorded with Andy Nelson of Weekend Nachos at Bricktop Studios and production wise there is little to be negative about, dig deep and all the nuances and clever ideas can be clearly found. The only real problem with the release is that there is no real variation between the tracks in style or sounds. Yes, those little extras lying deep are different from track to track but the overall lasting noise is a similar thick blanket over everything. In many ways that is not too big an issue but it does make the package as a whole, despite the two songs previously mentioned loaded with impressive qualities, a harder listen than the individual songs deserve.

Despite that, Isolation is to be recommended totally, it is a tower of noise that gives more than it sucks from the listener, maybe just take in small doses at first.