New Harm's Way release worth the wait
It's been almost two years since Harm's Way released the short, five track Blinded. Two long years with 20 minutes on repeat. Two years of '50s dad haircuts from "Mind Control." Two excruciatingly empty years with a few new YouTube hits here and there with washed out audio and beefy, angry hardcore dudes.
Two years has matured Harm's Way (they all have '50s dad haircuts now). Their newest release, Rust, out now on Deathwish, still has that signature Harm's Way tone. It's more complex, though, with layers of sound they were just experimenting with on Blinded. The lyrics have grown from fragments to more complete thoughts, with less the listener needs to fill in. And, like every fucking hardcore band does these days, they're experimenting with angsty clean metal vocals.
James Pligge is quite easily one of the most intimidating men in hardcore. His stage presence is one of the many things that makes Harm's Way one of the most violent bands touring today. But Rust seems to have lost some of the inherent anger that underwrote Blinded. Some of it is the change from belted half-thoughts into more fleshed-out yelled lines, but some of it has to come from age. The tone of the record is way more mellow, too, with about 75% of the anger Blinded oozed. That being said, 75% of the angriest band in modern hardcore is heavier than most bands can ever dream off. This isn't a soft record by any stretch of the imagination, and isn't a letdown, either. It's a developed sound.
The rest of the album picks up exactly where Blinded left off: pissed off and brutal with an even more epic scale than before. Harm's Way has taken time to explore new structure and content, moving from fast to slow and heavy to more dramatic, moody bits. I'm keen to see how destructive the pit can be with the new sound. Unlike Blinded, Rust offers some melodic dance tunes that slowly marinate. With more tracks available, the band has time to show off the style they've been polishing all these years on the road. Rust is a superb addition to their catalogue. Absolutely worth the two year wait, and absolutely worth listening to for another two.