3rd June 2016 – Self-released
02. Instruments of Guilt
04. Subsidised Slaughter
05. A Fractured World
In case you were wondering, a paroxysm is defined as a ‘sudden, violent outburst’. It doesn’t take long with their debut EP to see why Harbinger have plucked that word from the dictionary to serve as its title. Coming together and playing their first show less than a year ago, Harbinger are neither messing around nor taking any prisoners.
Almost all of Harbinger’s members have been seen in action prior to their formation, as parts of Acrania, No Rest, Immerse and Doomed From Day One, and this previous experience – in particular the considerable talents of guitar pairing Ben Sutherland and Charlie Griffiths – has resulted in Paroxysm showing a startling degree of maturity for a debut release.
Harbinger’s formula is a compelling hybrid of a number of styles from the heavier end of the sonic spectrum, and they have been woven together to such a degree that it’s difficult to decide which is the dominant one. With death-metal slams, groove-metal chuggy riffs and tech-metal fretboard acrobatics jostling each other within prog-metal song structures with recognisable choruses, Paroxysm ticks many boxes. ‘Progressive deathcore’ feels like a bit of a contradiction in terms, but goes some way towards capturing Harbinger’s balancing act between the cerebral intricacies and the primal, brute force of their songs.
Imposing vocalist Tom Gardner’s pitched screams add just enough melody to the churning assaults of opening track “Falsifier” and “Survival”, and it’s probably not going to be long before his words are being bellowed back at them from the pit at their shows. The guitar solos are fluent and impressive without being fussy or too showy. The dynamic flow of the songs pumps up the weighty impact of the heavier sections without having to resort to hyper-downtuning. “A Fractured World” brings Paroxysm to a bludgeoning conclusion.
Paroxysm, appropriately, does not hang about. Shorn of intro tracks or interludes, and with only “Falsifier” breaking the four-minute mark by a single second, the seventeen minute, five track EP is as lean as it is mean. Its potent blend of styles gives Harbinger a certain crossover appeal that should draw in fans from a variety of sources, for a variety of reasons, and makes the band a worthy addition to any number of festival or touring bills. It’s entirely plausible that Harbinger could become simultaneously the heaviest band one fan likes, and the softest in another’s collection. This is a good place to be.
It’s almost hard to believe that Paroxysm is a debut release from a relatively young band that has only finalised its line-up in the last few months. Harbinger are already hard at work tearing up stages across the country, and writing more new material. With no weak links in their chain, this potent combination of talent, inspiration and passion is a rare commodity, and it appears that Harbinger are hungry enough to really capitalise on it.
It will be fascinating to see where Harbinger go next, but in the meantime, there’s a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction to be wrought from the songs that comprise Paroxysm, both on record and on stage – and this goes double for anyone who gets a kick out of the collision of the more high-minded progressive nature and knuckle-dragging moshpit brutality. If all goes to plan, Paroxysm could well be the start of something very special. Watch this space.
Physical copies of Paroxysm and t-shirts are available from the Harbinger’s Bigcartel page. Digital copies are available from iTunes and Google Play.