Album Review – Posthuman by Harms Way (Metal Blade)
Harms Way have released their latest album, Posthuman, on the 9th of February. Posthuman is their fourth full length release overall and first via Metal Blade.
Harms Way have garnered quite a reputation over the last few years for hard hitting, aggressive music and a wildly energetic, frenzied live show. The Chicago based metalcore/hardcore band have toured extensively since forming in 2006 in support of their first three albums, Reality Approaches (2009), Isolation (2011) and Rust (2015). Lyrically they deal with familiar and relevant topics like personal struggles, personal growth and self awareness. These powerful topics mixed with passionate aggression have made the band firm favourites of many listeners.
Harms Way are Chris Mills on drums and Bo Lueders on guitars. James Pligge is the vocalist while Nick Gauthier is also on guitars and Casey Soyk is on the bass. Telling us what to expect from Posthuman, Bo Leuders said “To a Harms Way fan, I would describe ‘Posthuman’ as a blend of ‘Isolation’(2011) and ‘Rust’ (2015), but it’s sonically way more insane. To anyone else, I would simply say it’s full on heavy and full on aggression.”
He’s not wrong either. Posthuman is full on, heavy and in your face aggressive. With elements drawn from death metal, hardcore, metalcore and industrial, Harms Way have taken the heaviest of each genre, formed a brick out of it and then aimed it straight at your face. Importantly though Posthuman isn’t just heavy for the sake of heavy. There are plenty of moments of clever creativity and variety both within the album and song structures on show.
With 10 tracks weighing in at 34 minutes, there isn’t much time for hanging about as the album kicks off with opener Human Carrying Capacity.
We are instantly hit with a crunchy, groove laden riff and slightly off kilter drum beat before a quick stop sees the verse erupt into life. Dark and meaty vocals spit out lyrics over a quick riff and even quicker drum beat. A vicious chorus with tons of bass hits hard though Harms Way find room afterwards for a slight lull. Quieter background vocals build slowly until the track forcefully explodes with a breakdown that might just be the heaviest breakdown I have ever heard. Make sure you have the volume up on this one and prepare to have your bones rattled.
Other big hitters come in the shape of Sink, a track showing of frenzied drumming and vicious vocals before a slow groove breakdown near it’s end. Become a Machine is another fast and hard one with an excellent riff and neck breaking bass line. Dissect Me is one of my favourites. The riff is intense, the drums force you to headbang while the vocals are snarled with such ferocity, you worry for the vocalists throat. The best, or at least my favourite is left until last with epic ender Dead Space.
Dead Space is the catchiest track on the album, worming it’s way into your mind and bedding down. Groove dripping riffs join forces with ferocious vocals. The pace switches up, especially from the drums, with blasting lines followed by rhythmic timing. The track ends with a really neat guitar line, shouted vocals over it before a mini breakdown brings us to closing.
A couple negatives though starting with, I don’t really like the second track, Last Man. A short sub 2 minute blast with heavy industrial elements. Echoed drums start the track off with a drum ‘n’ bass sort of rhythm before a quick blast of ferocious metal over a decent riff sees the song end with a hard to make out sampled speech. A good example of Harms Way being more than a one trick pony, though not nearly a song that hits the height of the rest of the album and not a song I enjoyed very much.
Temptation is another track that takes a few listens. It breaks Posthuman up well by being very different in tempo, style and sound. It is a bass driven track, slower and with some interesting guitar lines and echoed vocals. For me though, it just feels a little flat when stacked up against the hard hitters surrounding it. It is a similar story with The Gift though it acts as nice precursor to the big ending track, Dead Space.
A few minor negatives that are mainly focused on some of the good songs not being quite as good as some of the brilliant ones. You could argue they aren’t really negatives at all then I guess. What we get with Posthuman is a really powerful, really heavy album with strong vocals and musicianship in all corners. The lyrics are meaningful and there are little tracks that switch direction that break up the album a bit too. Posthuman, is a great album, with heaviness at the forefront but plenty of intelligence on show too. It is a cracking album.
Check out Harms Way on Bandcamp where you can pick up Posthuman, Rust and the EP Blinded. Find out more on Harms Way at their Facebook page, on Twitter or on Instagram. Be sure to give them a like or follow while you are there.
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Posthuman by Harms Way (Metal Blade)
The Final Score - 8.5/10