Review Summary: Post workout routine
Some music makes you want to think, some music makes you want to cry, some music makes you want to dance, some music wants to make you headbutt your way through a wall of breeze blocks. “Posthuman”
, the latest album by Chicago’s hardcore hellions Harm’s Way strongly relates to the latter description.
The first thing you notice about “Posthuman”
is how it sounds as if it’s an inch away from your face. Harm’s Way completely obliterates all boundaries of a person’s comfort zone as multiple elements of this album appear to have been crafted to sound so in-your-face that its invasiveness and assertive charisma is palpable. The production has been designed so that the music sounds loud and belligerent, James Pligge’s guttural vocals are placed above the mixing of the instrumentalism to appear equally as dominant as his physique, and that maximum impact is delivered during and after the numerous mosh-calls sprayed across the album. A blunt and blatant haymaker to the grotesque side of humanity and the horrid situations humankind digs itself into is what Harm’s Way aims for, and a blunt and blatant punch is exactly what “Posthuman” delivers.
Harm’s Way’s strike is tempered with the industrial elements that the band has developed from their previous album, “Rust”
. Comparisons and influences from bands such as Godflesh, Ministry and Fear Factory are obvious across “Posthuman”
due to the electronic samples injected into the adrenaline of this album. Before the distorted vocals, sparks, saws and scrapes introduce “The Gift” which creates a short, mangled and menacing interlude. Other tracks such as “Temptation” and “Call My Name” revolve around a bleak industrial aesthetic bringing about a subtle sense of realism to the destructive nature Industry has on humanity. Similarly, the grinding riffs scattered across “Posthuman”
sound equally mechanic in songs such as the jolting “Dissect Me” and “Become the Machine” that churn out an array of jolting riffs sure to heat the crowd to boiling mosh pits.
However, the mechanic mood of this album is its largest downfall. Many of the driven and crushing riffs on this album become progressively less potent because of how repetitive they are. Take “Unreality”, the main riff is both punishingly heavy and has this elasticity about it that makes it sound like it is trudging over everything in its way yet it barely altars, and many songs exemplify this technique. Thus, that controlled, mechanic sensibility diminishes how frantic “Posthuman”
initially appears, contrary to the free, unrestrained vitriol hardcore often displays. Harm’s Way is punching you really ***ing hard, but only in one spot.
Nevertheless, those looking for a simplistic delivery of punishing riffs that make you want to kick your legs around, whirl your arms in a circle or punch the floor in the middle of a wall of death will find this album suitably sufficient in evoking such behaviour. What’s most impressive is that Harm’s Way paves no new ground for the hardcore scene and have still managed to create an album that sounds more destructive than the majority of their counterparts while barely progressing their dedicated sound. With that kind of trajectory, best stay out of Harm’s Way.