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Harm’s Way

Harm's Way - Rust album art


10th March 2015 – Deathwish Inc.

01. Infestation
02. Law Of The Land
03. Cremation
04. Hope
05. Cancerous Ways
06. Amongst The Rust
07. Disintegrate
08. Docile Bodies
09. Turn To Stone
10. Ease My Mind

Opening with an immediate barrage of rhythmic and hard-hitting industrial noise, Rust immediately lives up to its name, and that of its creator; there’s an ever-danger of blood infections if you happen to cut yourself on its sharp edges, putting you in harm’s way as you make your way through its streamlined factory. At any moment you could fall victim to either the machinery or the vitriol of the band’s beatdown brutality. It feels like it wants to rip you apart and spit on you, leaving you broken on the ground.

With its straightforward riffs and vocals reminiscent of Napalm Death‘s Barney Greenway, it would be easy to write Harm’s Way off as a one-trick pony – but even if that was it, the quartet perform that trick with more flair than most. The riffs, while not the most complex, are so hard hitting that their weight feels palpable, and with extra industrial elements (e.g. “Infestation“) what we have here is kind of a hardcore version of Godflesh.

Guest vocals from Colin Young of Twitching Tongues and fellow Chicagoan Emily Jancetic on “Amongst The Rust” and “Turn To Stone” respectively add just enough variety to keep things very interesting without watering down the successful formula. Both add unique elements: “Amongst The Rust” has the catchiest chorus beatdown possible without going full “I Don’t Really Love You” by Sworn In (you never go full “I Don’t Really Love You” by Sworn In”), while Jancetic ‘s turn brings such fragile feelings to the table that you’re left surprised that Harm’s Way didn’t crush them on the way in with their massive biceps.

While the riffs on Rust are plenty catchy and memorable, these are stand-out moments you’re likely to see mentioned in every review and for good reason: in an album like this, tasteful variety is a fine line. No, scratch that: it’s a tightrope that many will turn into a noose and hang themselves (see Sworn In’s “I Don’t Really Love You”).

Of particular note is Rust’s great production, which keeps the crushing riffs free of clipping and manages a great balance between the industrial elements and the band itself. While I’m usually quite skeptical when it comes to these often self-proclaimed ‘beatdown bands’, Harm’s Way have managed to make an entire album that that feels like a beatdown, instead of relying on those how-slow-can-you-go breakdowns. The music sounds – and feels – violent in the best possible way; the oppressive nature – and how it feels like if you poked it with a stick it would literally explode with rage – makes this a much more fitting band to label ‘beatdown’ than something like Black Tongue (in my opinion).

In the end, labels don’t really matter when except for one: Deathwish Inc., and their very justifiable choice of releasing this album alongside the rest of their respectable catalogue. This album is at the same time a shower and a grower: easily assimilated, but with a wealth of nuance to appreciate over repeat listens. A rock-solid piece of hardcore, and fun as fuck.


Jón writer banner Jan 2015