Review Summary: Welcome to the worst nightmare of all, reality.
Look at the artwork of this album. You see the rat, you see the hand coming from the cloud grabbing and crushing the rat. As you listen to Isolation, you realize that you yourself are the rat and Harm's Way is the cloud and hand that grabs you. You are the subject of an album delivering a ferocious and raw sound that if it were only physical, it would tear you to shreds. If you didn't get the memo, this album is heavy. Assumptions aside, you most likely know how it goes from there when it comes to hardcore: there are the many bands who make feeble attempts to be heavy and then there are the few who do it successfully. Beyond reasonable doubt, you can put Harm's Way in the category mentioned second. Although they use breakdowns and relentless chugging, it is obvious that from the start, Harm's Way know that requires much more than those attributes to create an album that is heavy and simultaneously engaging.
The leading force behind Harm's Way is the infuriated vocal demeanor of lead singer “Judge Hammers” Ferocious in every definition, Hammers is able to alter his intonation to accompany the slow, relentless grooves of “Scrambled,” and the searing speed of “Timing” just the same. His vocal capability becomes more and more apparent as the album progresses, and he’s even able to keep the flow of the album going and still maintain it's freshness and savory without allowing the songs or album as a whole to becoming stagnant and unpalatable. Though mostly audible, a lyrics sheet would become useful at some points.
From the first ominous drum pattern on "Scrambled" to the last medley of spaced out blast beats on the closer "Pretender," the album shows as much a display in power as it shows a display in restraint. While they do push the heavy envelope and unrelenting side of this album to the farthest limit, they also know where to relent on it a bit, and let slow, strong riffs show under the demanding authority of Hammer's vocals. What was just mentioned is a great example of each part of their songwriting cooperating together. The Hardcore riffs that begin the song give way to a much harsher tone towards the end, which makes the transition between both sections in “Pretender” is smooth and flawless. “Breeding Grounds” shows cooperation too with pounding chord progressions and just enough of an unrelenting rhythm section to keep all of it check, all of which serves as a lead-in to the devastating closing breakdown in the song that gives it an incredibly strong finish. The execution of this album is done so well and is then so seamlessly delivered that it becomes almost devoid of complaints.
With such a devastating release such as “Isolation” it is quite obvious that Harm's Way is here to stay. A steady mix of Metal and Hardcore, these guys from Chicago lead a pulverizing and unforgiving 32-minutes that will most certainly make the band become a household name in many hardcore communities everywhere.