Normally I defend how anger is not the only emotion found in heavy music, but the new Harm’s Way album, Common Suffering (Metal Blade) is full-force rage, so strap on a helmet and get ready to fall into madness. Through the years, the Chicago-based band has really hit their stride with an even mixture of death metal and hardcore punk, bonded together by industrial blasts.
Fifth album, and on the back of the intense and acclaimed Posthuman, this release sits high up on their discography since their explosion onto the scene a decade ago.
The first track, which was also the first single from Common Suffering, is quite the statement to start off the record. “Silent Wolf” is straightforward hardcore punk with aggressive verses and outro while also showcasing the mixture of vocals from lead growler, James Pligge, and backing shrieker and guitarist, Bo Lueders. The sound of Harm’s Way in full-flight, and a fearsome wrecking machine to behold.
But don’t be fooled into thinking Common Suffering relies on one-or-two-trick bludgeoning, and a couple of tracks stand out and really push the boundaries. “Undertow” is a heavily industrial-influenced song, complete with guest vocalist Kris Esfandiari of King Woman. The majority of the track feels like an ominous lullaby with Efandiari’s vocals singing over clean guitar leads before the ending picks up suddenly with Pligge returning with his signature vocals and the rest of the band pummeling the song into the depths of the ocean.
“Cyanide” is yet another side to Harm’s Way that puts death metal heavily into the mix with Meshuggah-like riffs pulling at some hardcore strings. The build up and breakdown in the back half of the track will make that evident; especially if the immediate aggression felt at the start of the song was not enough.
I do have to be honest that I have very much been anticipating Common Suffering. Having said that, Harm’s Way, yet again, has blown the proverbial glass ceiling that was my expectations into smithereens. The varying ratio of Hardcore Punk, Death Metal, and Industrial keeps you guessing even after numerous times listening from front to back. This once “joke” band continues to impress after yet another absolute banger collection of songs that really does have something horrible for everyone.
Buy the album here:
9 / 10