LabelClosed Casket Activities
4. Breeding Grounds
6. New Beginnings
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Isolation marks Harm’s Way’s first full length, coming off the heels of their No Gods No Masters EP released last year. The Chicago based outfit plays metallic hardcore that is as groove-laden as it is heavy, and the album features eight songs that will pummel your eardrums for over thirty minutes.
Harm’s Way is a great example of a band that doesn’t need to use gimmicks to create a menacing full length; the music speaks for itself. Moreover, the vocal style is sparse but well placed in the form of single or short groups of words, as opposed to the constant screaming that many of today’s bands have adopted. It works well with this style of hardcore because the music is the focal point and the lyrics are basically just a complement, making a mean record sound even heavier. The breakdowns are also well thought out and flow seamlessly within the songs instead of being randomly placed for shits and giggles – “Timing” and “New Beginnings” exemplify this quality.
The biggest downside to Isolation is the lack of variety in both song structure and tempo; almost every song plods along at the same pace to the point where they tend to blend together. “Becoming” is the only track that really stands out because Harm’s Way breaks away from their standard songwriting formula, letting the drums and guitar do most of the work to form a hypnotizing rhythm while the vocals serve more as background noise.
An album lacking diversity is usually a surefire way to turn listeners away and at first listen some people may start to tune out about half way through, but Isolation really does get better with age, so give it a few tries before assessing its worth. Regardless of this shortcoming, Harm’s Way is a band to look out for and, although they definitely haven’t mastered the metallic hardcore genre, they play the style well above the average. Isolation is a strong debut that merits your attention, so go check it out.